Periodontal Maintenance vs. Routine Cleaning

Have you been advised to have periodontal maintenance by your dentist or hygienist? You may believe that dental examinations are always the same. Periodontal care and routine cleanings are both done on a regular basis, but the former is a preventative strategy while the latter is a treatment. Here’s a quick rundown of the differences:

Preventative Cleaning

Prophylaxis, a phrase used to describe preventative treatment practices, refers to a routine dental cleaning. A dental hygienist scales and polishes a patient’s teeth during a regular teeth cleaning to remove all visible tartar built up above the gum line. When a patient’s gums are healthy and snugly attached to teeth, a frequent teeth cleaning is recommended. Regular cleanings, which are normally suggested once or twice a year, can help prevent serious oral health issues like periodontal disease from occurring. Patients without bone loss, periodontal disease, or infection around the teeth should get their teeth cleaned on a regular basis. There should be no bleeding, tooth movement, receding areas, or gaps exposing the spaces around the base of the teeth. In other words, the mouth should be in good shape, with no bone or gum concerns. Depending on how quickly discoloration, plaque, and tartar form, a regular cleaning is normally done two to three times a year. Your insurance company considers it a preventive procedure because regular cleanings help to prevent periodontal disease.

Periodontal Maintenance

Unlike a normal, preventative-routine cleaning, periodontal maintenance is a treatment prescribed to fight periodontal disease. Periodontal maintenance reduces tartar buildup from the teeth in the same way that a regular teeth cleaning does. Tartar must be eliminated from deep between the teeth and gums, which necessitates root planing and scaling. The hygienist will remove tartar buildup from between your teeth and gums during a periodontal maintenance treatment, stopping where the gum, root, and bone meet. If inflammation or infection appears, your hygienist will carefully examine the depth of each pocket in your gums and irrigate these pockets with antiseptic drugs.

A routine cleaning is not recommended if you have periodontal disease that has progressed to the point of bone loss, gum “pockets” deeper than 4 millimeters, bleeding gums, or exposed root surfaces, or if you have had periodontal surgery or root planing to treat periodontal disease. Scaling is required for periodontal maintenance in order to keep the gums and bones healthy. Plaque and tartar are removed from above and below the gum line, as well as from the length of each tooth to the point where the root, gum, and bone meet. If necessary, rough parts of the roots are smoothened, pocket depths are carefully monitored, and inflamed pockets may be treated with antibiotics.


Your insurance company may consider periodontal maintenance to be a basic treatment, and a yearly deductible may apply. Periodontal maintenance is usually done based on a number of factors, including how quickly plaque and tartar accumulate, how much bleeding or inflammation is present, how stable the current situation is, how well you can keep your teeth clean at home on a regular basis, and any health risks you may have.

Periodontal maintenance visits are only scheduled when a patient has been diagnosed with periodontal disease and has received periodontal root planing and scaling treatment. Periodontal cleanings are normally suggested every three to four months to keep gums healthy and eliminate the harmful bacterial development that occurs with periodontal disease.

Periodontal maintenance, according to the American Dental Association, will necessitate more visits than a standard prophylaxis cleaning. However, the frequency of your appointments may fluctuate as you improve. According to studies, those who adhere to periodontal maintenance therapy fare better than those who do not. Your periodontal disease will progress if you do not keep up with your maintenance, and you may need more aggressive periodontal treatment. As your periodontal disease progresses, you may or may not experience discomfort, but you are more likely to lose some or all of your teeth. Because each patient has unique requirements, it’s critical to address these with your dentist.

What’s Next?

If you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease, Dr. Moore will discuss further treatment recommendations with you, including initial and ongoing treatments, such as periodontal maintenance. Contact our office at (817)410-7373 or schedule an appointment on our website here.