Statistics have shown that well over half of Americans have some form of gum disease. When you do have gum disease your regular dental cleanings are not a “just” a cleaning. Patients often ask our Glen Head periodontist, Warren Baine, DMD, what the difference is between periodontal maintenance and a regular cleaning, so we do our best to educate you on the process. A regular cleaning is normally recommended every six months for our patients who have healthy gums and bone. During this appointment, we remove stains, tartar, and soft plaque above the gums, then check for cavities.
A bacterial infection caused by plaque, periodontal disease destroys the bone and fibers holding your teeth in place. Certain people are more at risk than others and smoking, certain medications, stress, diabetes and prior gum problems are just some of the things that can increase your risk. The goal of our Glen Head periodontist is to stop the infection by cleaning and disinfecting the roots of your teeth, above and below the gums, in a procedure known as scaling and root planing. Typically, this procedure takes place over two visits, during which our hygienist may use a local anesthetic and usually treats one half of your mouth at a time.
Very much like diabetes, periodontal disease is a chronic condition that can be controlled but not cured. Once bone damage has occurred, it is, unfortunately, permanent and the resulting pockets are impossible to keep clean with ordinary tools such as a toothbrush, floss, or Waterpik. Leading-edge techniques such as laser therapy and placing antibiotics under your gum line in the periodontal pockets, have helped many of our patients avoid gum surgery and tooth loss. Dr. Baine also explains to our patients that the best periodontal disease control is a team effort which means it’s important for you to keep up a careful oral hygiene routine at home, coupled with frequent office visits to monitor and maintain your gums and bone. The frequency of these office visits vary according to individual patient needs, but research has shown that after scaling and root planing, it only takes about three months for the bacteria to accumulate in these pockets to the point where the problem was caused in the first place. Most of our patients are able to stay healthy when they schedule maintenance visits at 3 to 4 month intervals but if there has been no change, it means the schedule is working for you and your periodontal disease is being controlled.