How Does Periodontal Maintenance Differ From a Routine Dental Cleaning?

Periodontal maintenance and routine cleanings are both done by a dental hygienist; however, they are two different types of dental appointments. Primarily, the difference is that a routine cleaning is a preventative measure, and periodontal maintenance is a prescribed treatment for periodontal (gum) disease. Let’s look at why either type of appointment might be necessary for you to maintain your healthy smile in Athens, GA.

Routine Dental Cleaning

A routine dental cleaning is called a prophylaxis—preventative care for children and adults who have not been diagnosed with gum disease. Your general dentist will typically recommend routine dental prophylaxis once or twice per year. During these regular cleanings, the dental hygienist will scale and polish your teeth to remove the build-up of plaque, tartar/calculus, and stain. These routine cleanings remove any plaque that builds up between your appointments. Your dentist will check your mouth for issues such as cavities, abscesses, oral cancer, and gum disease. Catching these issues early allows them to be treated more easily.

Why Do I Need Periodontal Maintenance?

If you have been diagnosed with gum disease, you will undergo initial treatments such as scaling and root planing (deep cleaning), or periodontal surgery, in order to restore health in the diseased tissues. Once the gum disease is brought under control, regular preventative dental cleanings are no longer recommended, and you will be prescribed periodontal maintenance as ongoing treatment to keep the bacteria growth in your mouth in check. In most cases, periodontal (gum) disease is a lifelong condition, and as such, it must be managed and kept under control to maintain your optimal oral health.

The disease-causing bacteria can re-colonize underneath the gums within three months after a cleaning. Leaving the bacteria unchecked for longer periods can lead to inflammation and much more extensive and costly damage to the tissues and bone. For most patients, a three month maintenance schedule is crucial to conserve the health of your teeth and gums; however, the exact interval may vary depending on the particular condition of your gums, and can change depending on your current needs. Dr. Pylant, your periodontist in Athens, GA, will decide how often you will need periodontal maintenance based on your individual case.

What is Periodontal Maintenance?

Much like a routine dental cleaning, in a periodontal maintenance appointment, the hygienist will remove the tartar buildup from your teeth and polish them. Your oral health will be monitored for problems.  The hygienist will clean a little deeper under the gums during a periodontal maintenance appointment, in order to battle the dangerous re-growth of periodontal bacteria. The depth of each pocket in your gums is measured, and if inflammation or infection is present, the pockets will be flushed and irrigated with antiseptic medication. Periodontal maintenance appointments are essential to maintain your periodontal stability, and to keep harmful bacteria from spreading and causing further damage.

We care about you and helping you maintain your optimal oral health! Dr. Pylant will base your care on your individual needs, so if you have gum disease in Athens, GA, please give us a call at 706-543-0026 to schedule an appointment.

Contact Us

F. Neal Pylant, D.M.D., P.C.

Scott Lowry, D.M.D.


375 Hawthorne Lane Athens, GA 30606-2153