What is Perio Maintenance, and Why Do I Need it?

We hear this question quite frequently from our patients who have completed their gum treatments.  After undergoing the required dental procedures to treat active periodontal disease, a different type of maintenance is necessary to keep the periodontal tissues healthy.  In this article, we will explain why this maintenance routine is so important.

What is Perio Maintenance?

Perio maintenance is the short way of saying periodontal maintenance. This dental procedure, with the code D4910, is an ongoing, therapeutic professional teeth cleaning performed on a consistent schedule after the completion of active periodontal treatment.

This teeth cleaning differs from a “regular” teeth cleaning in several ways.  The traditional type of professional teeth cleaning (that people think of when they consider a “regular” cleaning) is a prophylaxis.  An understanding of that word tells you that traditional teeth cleanings are preventive in nature.  They function to remove bacteria and prevent disease.  It makes sense that we can’t prevent diseases that someone has already had.

Those who have had active periodontal disease are not candidates for prophylaxis but instead require a periodontal maintenance cleaning.  A perio maintenance procedure aims to therapeutically intervene and stop active disease from recurring.

Who Needs to Have Perio Maintenance?

Anyone who has undergone treatment for active periodontal disease needs to have consistent follow-up visits that include the periodontal maintenance procedure.  Periodontal maintenance cleanings are not for people with healthy gums or for those with active gum disease.  Those with healthy gums should continue their consistent visits with a dentist and dental hygienist for prophylaxis, and those with active gum disease need treatment to stop the disease.

Why is Perio Maintenance More Expensive than a “Regular” Cleaning?

Periodontal maintenance cleanings have a higher fee associated with them because they require a higher level of skill, different types of dental instruments, and more time.  During a perio maintenance, your dental hygienist or dentist must remove all bacterial buildup from the teeth.  Due to prior active periodontal disease, this removal must occur both above and below the gums.  (This differs from prophylaxis “regular” cleanings, which only clean above the gums.)

In those with prior gum disease, much of the bacterial buildup is on the roots of the teeth.  Roots do not have a protective coating of enamel, and they are much more delicate.  Your hygienist must use a gentle and precise technique to remove the bacteria without damaging the surfaces of the roots.

Why Do I Need Perio Maintenance Cleanings More Often than Every Six Months?

As we described in the previous section, prior gum disease typically allows bacteria to collect beneath the gums on the roots of the teeth.  This usually includes areas of the mouth that even the most precise brushers and flossers cannot reach.  You simply cannot effectively clean these areas well enough to prevent a recurrence of the disease.

This places these patients in a higher risk category for gum disease, and one method of lowering that risk is by intervening with therapeutic perio maintenance more frequently.  Most patients will require perio maintenance cleanings every three to four months, but some patients who are very high risk need them as often as every six weeks!

Can I Ever Go Back to “Regular” Teeth Cleanings?

In some cases, patients can successfully overcome gum disease and revert back to a state of healthy gums.  Unfortunately, this is not the norm.  Most people who have treated active gum disease must continue with therapeutic perio maintenance for the rest of their lives in order to maintain periodontal health.

In order to return to prophylaxis-type cleanings, the patient must have no pocketing around the teeth that would require cleaning beneath the gums.  This can happen through early intervention, successful treatment, and great home care.

More Questions about Perio Maintenance?

Call Empire Dental Specialty Group today to schedule a consultation with one of our periodontal experts.  We can answer every question you have about perio maintenance cleanings and assess your specific need for them. We have office hours in both our Beavercreek and West Chester locations to serve your periodontal needs.