Preserve the Progress You Have Made
If you have gum disease, you may already have had a special cleaning called "scaling and root planing". You may also have had periodontal surgery. The regular cleanings recommended after those treatments are called periodontal maintenance therapy or periodontal supportive treatment. The purpose of the cleanings is to preserve the progress you have made.
Once periodontal disease is brought under control with treatment, it is very important that you get periodontal maintenance care on a regular basis from your Periodontist. Cleaning your mouth daily at home is a must, but it is not enough to keep periodontal disease in check.
Periodontal maintenance is deeper than a normal cleaning in the dental office. Deep cleaning removes plaque and tartar. Plaque is a sticky film that is always forming on your teeth. If plaque stays on teeth, it can harden above and below the gum line into a rough surface called tartar. Tartar can only be removed when teeth are cleaned at the dental office.
Patients with a history of periodontal disease need a deeper cleaning because they have formed "pockets". Pockets are spaces between the teeth and gums that can trap plaque and tartar. With regular deep cleanings, the pockets can shrink and the gums can become healthier. For patients whose periodontal treatments have already been successful, periodontal maintenance can help ensure their gums stay healthy.
Dr. Dufour may prescribe and use medications to help keep your mouth healthy. She will discuss this with you and answer all your questions.
Gum disease is actually your body's response to the bacteria existing in your mouth. Because of this, periodontal disease (like high blood pressure or diabetes), is not curable but can be controlled. The pockets and other effects of periodontal disease also make it harder for you to clean plaque from your teeth and gums, so you will need more frequent hygiene appointments than other patients. Dr. Dufour may recommend treatment every three to four months, or even more often. As you progress, fewer appointments may be necessary.
Studies show that if you follow through with periodontal maintenance therapy, you are more likely to keep your teeth. If you do not continue with your maintenance, your periodontal disease may get worse. You may or may not feel pain as a warning sign that the disease is progressing. Discuss all this with your Dr. because every patient is different.
Teeth may be sensitive for some time after periodontal therapy. When unwanted deposits are removed from root surfaces, your teeth may be sensitive to temperature changes, acids produced by bacteria in your mouth, and even touch.
This soreness can make you want to avoid cleaning the areas that were treated. It is very important, however, to keep brushing gently and flossing to remove the plaque. If this plaque is not routinely removed, root decay (cavities) may occur. Ask Dr. Dufour if a special tooth paste or other treatments can decrease your sensitivity.
Keep Brushing and Flossing!
Brushing and flossing are important for everyone, but even more so for periodontal patients. You should brush twice a day and floss daily. Brushing generally cannot reach between your teeth, where most periodontal problems occur. You must floss or use some other between-the-teeth cleaner to get to those hard-to-reach places.
Many periodontal patients have gums that have pulled away from their teeth. That often creates enough space between teeth to allow the use of cleaners other than floss. Special between-the- teeth brushes and wider types of floss and picks can be good choices for you. For extra help keeping your mouth clean, your dentist may recommend a mouth rinse and/or sonic toothbrush in addition to brushing and flossing.
Oral and Overall Health
Tooth loss is not the only possible problem posed by periodontal diseases. Links have been found between periodontal diseases and other systemic diseases including diabetes and heart disease.
Do not use tobacco in any form. Smoking and chewing tobacco place you at higher risk for cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Tobacco use can also make periodontal conditions more severe and make care much more difficult. If you use tobacco, ask your dentist or physician for information about how to stop the habit.
A team approach is critical. Dr. Dufour has begun your therapy, but you must carry it forward. At home every day, take good care of your teeth and gums. You don't have to lose teeth to periodontal disease!
For a lifetime of healthy smiles:
❖ Brush twice a day
❖ Clean between your teeth once a day
❖ Eat a healthful diet
❖ Do not use tobacco
❖ Visit your Periodontist regularly
"I have been a patient of Anne Dufour since 1996. Over the years, Dr. Dufour has been very helpful to my dental health. I can count on her to provide me with honest appraisals of where my oral health is and what would be the best future course of treatment and self maintenance to ensure the health of my gums and teeth."
"I must tell you...and I’ve told you many times that you are the best!! It was my pleasure to have worked with
you and that’s the honest truth!! I have & will always have tremendous respect for you & your work!!