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Q and A: Periodontal Maintenance Cleanings

What is a periodontal maintenance cleaning?

A periodontal maintenance cleaning removes the tartar and bacteria that cause the inflammatory response that lead to gum disease and is meant to maintain the work done by scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) or periodontal surgery in patients that have gum disease.

Why do I need periodontal maintenance?

There are three areas that come into play when leading to gum disease.  They are your immune system, bacteria, and environmental factors, like smoking.  Periodontal maintenance breaks the triad that leads to gum disease by removal of bacteria that cause the inflammatory response.                                


How often do I need a periodontal maintenance cleaning?

Your periodontist will determine how often you need the periodontal maintenance cleanings depending upon the amount of inflammation or gum recession you have.  Research has shown that the bacteria associated with gum disease repopulate your gums 3 months after a professional cleaning.  Therefore, the suggested maintenance interval is 3 months.  These visits will be alternated with your general dentist so that they get a chance to monitor for cavities and your periodontal office will get to monitor your gum health.

Is there a difference between a periodontal maintenance cleaning and a regular cleaning?

A regular dental cleaning, or prophy, cleans around the crowns of your teeth.  A periodontal maintenance cleaning is a more involved cleaning that also cleans a little under your gums and around the roots of your teeth, removing the tartar and bacteria that cause the inflammatory response leading to gum disease.  As we strive to provide our patients with the best evidence-based care available to treat their periodontal disease, we now have the option of using the Perio-Flow® air polishing system as part of your treatment.  This system can use sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to remove stain and disease-causing bacteria above the gum line, or a glycine powder to remove bacteria from below the gum line.  Here are the answers to some questions you may have concerning this new treatment option:

                                                                              What is it?

Glycine is a naturally occurring amino acid (protein) found throughout the body and in all life forms.  It is needed in the body for many basic functions and is currently being researched as a treatment for several systemic diseases.

                                                                               Is it safe?

No adverse reactions to glycine have been reported.  It has been tested for use in the mouth and under the gum line since 2003.  A study published in the journal of Periodontology in 2008 showed it is safe on not only gum tissue but does no harm to tooth surfaces, composite (tooth-colored) filling materials, or implants.  It is actually less abrasive than traditional polishing and cleaning techniques (Petersilka JG, et al.  Effect of glycine powder air polishing on gingiva.  J Clin Periodontal.  2008; 35(4):324-332.)

                                                                          Why do I need it?

The main purpose of your periodontal maintenance appointment is to remove the harmful bacteria that cause your gums to be infected.  This is more difficult to accomplish in deeper periodontal pockets. Studies have shown a greater reduction in bacteria and for a longer period of time following your cleaning when the Perio-Flow® air polisher is used (Flemmig TF, et al.  Randomized controlled trial assessing efficacy and safety of glycine powder air polishing in moderate to deep periodontal pockets.  J Periodontal.  2012; 83(4):444-452.)

                                                                    Is it effective for implants?

A 2011 study compared treating severely infected implants with an Er/YAG laser and the Perio-Flow® air polisher.  The air polisher showed similar results in reducing the bacteria with much less tissue trauma and patient discomfort (Renvert S, et al.  Treatment of peri-implantitis using an Er:YAG laser or an air-abrasive device: a randomized clinical trial.  J Clin Periodontal. 2011;38-65-73.)

The EMS perio flow is another resource tool to help our patients achieve and maintain tissue health.  It is our mission to be the premier source of quality periodontal care, utilizing the latest technology in a compassionate and comfortable enviornment.

How important is the periodontal maintenance cleaning?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for gum disease.  Like other chronic inflammatory diseases, like diabetes or heart disease, it can only be managed with good oral hygiene and regular professional visits.  The periodontal maintenance cleaning decreases the inflammatory response in your gums and also helps manage other chronic inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.

What else can I do to help manage my gum disease?

In addition to brushing and flossing, it is important for you to maintain a diet full of vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids and to get plenty of exercise to help your body fight inflammation.  In addition, cutting back or quitting smoking is shown to help improve your condition.  Keeping your appointments with your physician also helps manage other systemic diseases associated with inflammation.

For additional information, contact:

Stacey Blume, DMD, MS



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