What Is Maintenance Therapy?

Maintenance therapy is an ongoing program designed to prevent disease in the gum tissues and bone supporting your teeth. Ongoing dental care of your mouth at home and regular maintenance visits with your dentist are vital for periodontal health care.

Why Is Maintenance Therapy Important?

The main cause of gum disease is bacterial plaque, a sticky, colourless film that constantly forms on your teeth. Toxins (or poisons) produced by the bacteria in plaque constantly attack your gums and teeth. If the plaque is not removed, it hardens into a rough, porous deposit called calculus, or tartar.

Daily oral hygiene, including brushing teeth and flossing, will keep the formation of calculus to a minimum, but it won’t completely prevent it. No matter how careful you are in cleaning your teeth and gums, bacterial plaque can cause a recurrence of gum disease from 2 to 4 months after your last professional dental cleaning. To keep your teeth and gums healthy, your dentist and hygienist must check for potential hidden problems and remove the hardened plaque at a time interval appropriate for you.

Who Should Perform Maintenance Care?

The answer depends upon the patient and the severity of the disease prior to treatment. The responsibility for periodontal maintenance will be worked out between you, your dentist and your hygienist. Depending on the advancement of the disease, your dentist may recommend a follow up with a periodontist (periodontal specialist).

What Is Included in a Maintenance Visit?

Your maintenance visit may include:

  • Discussing any changes in your health history and taking and recording a current blood pressure/pulse

  • Taking necessary x-rays to evaluate the teeth and the bone supporting the teeth

  • Examining your mouth tissues for abnormal changes

  • Measuring the depth of pockets around the teeth

  • Assessing your oral hygiene habits and providing helpful tips or instruction

  • Cleaning your teeth to remove bacterial plaque and calculus

  • Polishing your teeth to remove stains

  • Applying topical fluoride, if applicable

  • Examining your teeth for tooth decay and other dental problems

  • Checking the way your teeth fit together when you bite

  • Applying or prescribing medications to reduce tooth sensitivity or other problems

How Often Should I Have Maintenance Visits?

This decision is based upon your periodontal condition. The interval between maintenance visits varies between patients from every few weeks to every 6 months. Everyone’s situation is different. The frequency of maintenance visits will be influenced by:

  • Different types of periodontal diseases

  • Different types of periodontal treatment

  • Different patient response to treatment

  • Different rates of plaque growth

  • Personal commitment to good oral care at home