Why You Need More Than Two Cleanings Per Year


What is “Periodontal Maintenance” and why do I need it?

You just had a deep cleaning and/or have been told that you need to have an “extra cleaning”, known in the dental world as “periodontal maintenance”. To better understand why the periodontal maintenance visit is important, let’s discuss why you needed a deep cleaning and what happens during and after a deep cleaning.

Why you needed a deep cleaning

During your dental exam, the doctor or hygienist measured the pocketing around your teeth. Pocketing depths greater than 4mm indicate that you have gum inflammation, loss of attachment of the ligaments surrounding your teeth, and/or bone loss. Your gums may be painful or bleed when being measured. You have a buildup of plaque and/or calculus. Plaque contains bacteria which cause cavities and gum disease. When plaque is not removed, it can calcify, or harden, and become calculus. Calculus can attach to the enamel on your teeth, both above and below the gum line. Only a dental professional can remove these hard deposits and bacteria causing the infection of your gums in a Scaling and Root Planing procedure, commonly known as a “deep cleaning”.

What happens during a deep cleaning?

A deep cleaning requires getting deeper into the gum so an anesthetic is applied first-to numb the gums. Pathogens and calculus deposits are removed from the sulcus, the area between teeth and gums. Remaining free floating microbes are washed out of the pockets. A laser may be used or recommended for use at a later date to further remove bacteria, stop bleeding, or assist with healing. In addition to using or recommending a laser, an antibiotic, called Arestin, may be placed into the deep pockets to help fight the infection.

What happens to the gum tissue after a deep cleaning?

With the bacteria and calculus removed from your gums, the tissue can begin the healing phase. There will be less bleeding, improvement in tissue tone and texture, less inflammation, and some pocket reduction can also occur due to the shrinking tissue and reattachment of the gums to the teeth at the base of the pocket.

If my gums healed from the deep cleaning, why do I need a cleaning every few (2-4) months?

Receiving a deep cleaning doesn’t mean that you no longer have gum disease. Think of the deep cleaning as the beginning or “kick start” of a course of treatment that is needed for the improvement of your disease. Continuation of the treatment includes having dental cleanings at shorter intervals. This allows the doctor to perform an exam to monitor your progress and, if needed, recommended an alternative course of treatment if the progression of the disease continues.

Do I need to do anything other than come in for these cleaning appointments?

When it comes to the gums, we need your help! We are only able to do so much, seeing you every few months. Therefore, it is important to maintain a daily at-home brushing and flossing routine.  Combined, these additional cleanings and your daily oral hygiene regimen should slow or cease the progression of your gum disease.