Keeping Your Gums Healthy
After Dr. Silberg has completed the active phase of periodontal treatment, your periodontal disease will be under control. He will provide you with a personalized maintenance program of care to keep your gums healthy.
Maintenance therapy is an ongoing program designed to prevent disease in the gum tissues and bone supporting your teeth. Remember that periodontal disease is treatable and maintainable but is not "curable." Adherence to a program of conscientious home oral care and regularly scheduled maintenance therapy visits with your dentist and Dr. Silberg will give you an excellent chance of keeping your teeth for your lifetime.
Why is Supportive Periodontal Care Important?
As you have learned, you are susceptible to gum disease. You have probably learned, too, that the main cause of gum disease is bacterial plaque, a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. The bacteria in this plaque produce toxins, or poisons, which constantly attack your gums and teeth. Unless plaque is removed, it hardens into a rough, porous deposit called calculus, or tartar. Daily brushing and flossing will help to minimize the formation of calculus, 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 two to four months after your last professional cleaning. Therefore, a dental professional must check for hidden problems and remove the hardened plaque at time intervals appropriate for you so that your teeth and gums stay healthy.
Who Should Perform Maintenance Therapy?
The answer depends on you and the severity of your gum disease before treatment. Generally, the more severe your periodontal disease is initially, the more often Dr. Silberg needs to oversee your care. Together, you, your general dentist and Dr. Silberg will work out the most effective schedule for your supportive periodontal care.
Your maintenance visit may include:
- Discussions of any changes in your health history.
- Examination of your mouth tissues for abnormal changes.
- Measurement of the depth of pockets around your teeth and in between the roots.
- An updated bleeding index.
- Assessment of your oral hygiene habits and re-instruction as needed.
- Removal of bacterial plaque and tartar and root smoothing.
- X-ray film studies to evaluate your teeth and the bone supporting your teeth as needed.
- Examination of your teeth for decay and other dental problems.
- Checkup on the way your teeth fit together when you bite.
- Application or prescription of medications to reduce tooth sensitivity or other problems you may have.
How Often Should You Have Maintenance Visits?
Your periodontal condition is the deciding factor. The interval between your maintenance visits might be as often as every few weeks or as frequent as every six months. Everyone's situation is different. The frequency of your maintenance visits will be influenced by:
- The type of periodontal disease you have.
- The type of periodontal treatment you had.
- Your response to treatment.
- Your rate of plaque growth.
- Your personal commitment to, and effectiveness of, good oral care at home.
What is the Relationship Between Your Dentist and Dr. Silberg?
Your dentist and Dr. Silberg work together as a team to provide you with the best possible care. They combine their experience to formulate the best maintenance plan for you. They keep each other informed about your progress. Although Dr. Silberg may see you periodically for maintenance therapy, you will need to see your general dentist as well. Appointments for periodontal maintenance do not replace regular dental checkups. If Dr. Silberg detects tooth decay during a maintenance visit, he will refer you to your general dentist for treatment. Your general dentist is primarily responsible for your overall dental health, including such dental needs as filling new or recurrent cavities or making changes in fillings, crowns or bridges.
Are Supportive Periodontal Care Visits Worth the Cost?
Without question! By treating disease in the early stages, you save dollars-and discomfort-in the long run. Maintenance visits help to protect your periodontal health and prevent future dental problems. They are a wise investment in your dental health. If you have dental insurance, it may pay for just one dental examination every six months. Because you are susceptible to periodontal disease, you may need to be seen more often. So, you may need to personally pay for some of your maintenance visits.
Will You be Protected from Unnecessary X-rays?
Dr. Silberg takes x-ray films, or radiographs, only when essential to diagnose your periodontal problems. Generally, Dr. Silberg or your general dentist takes a full set of x-ray films every two to four years unless a patient's disease requires more frequent x-ray studies. X-ray studies are important to disease diagnosis because they allow Dr. Silberg and your dentist to see conditions that are not evident on a visual examination, thereby helping him detect periodontal disease in its early stages. When films are taken at our office, Dr. Silberg shares these x-ray series with your general dentist to minimize your exposure to x-rays. Additionally, we utilize digital radiography, which gives diagnostic films at a radiation exposure 90% less that of normal x-rays. However, as good as digital technology is, there are times when traditional films are superior. Dr. Silberg will not take bitewing x-rays to detect decay. This will always be done by your general dentist. Dr. Silberg will make this determination when requesting diagnostic films. Read more information on digital X-Rays.
To prevent periodontal disease, (the major cause of tooth loss in adults) and keep your natural teeth for your lifetime, carefully and conscientiously follow the guidelines of the maintenance program that Dr. Silberg recommends. Protecting your periodontal health through preventive maintenance has great benefits for you. You will be able to chew with more comfort, and you will be able to smile and speak with greater confidence. You will be able to keep dental costs down by preventing future problems. Your commitment to maintenance therapy is your commitment to your better oral health.