Periodontal Maintenance: What is it and Who Needs it?

We’ve all heard that we should visit the dentist regularly to have our teeth cleaned. And, while having your teeth cleaned may not be as much fun as having your car washed in a fancy car wash with colored soap bubbles, these cleanings are important to your health. Routine cleanings help remove the stubborn plaque and build-up you can’t remove with just brushing at home.

But did you know that just like visiting the car wash, there are different levels of cleaning? And depending on how long it’s been since your last visit, you may need more than just a regular cleaning, also known as prophylaxis. You may need to upgrade to a deluxe cleaning – something dentists refer to as periodontal maintenance. When used at the right time, these big words can help you avoid big problems with your oral health.


Also called prophylaxis, routine dental cleanings aim to prevent dental problems and maintain good oral health. During a regular cleaning, a dental hygienist will use a specialized dental instrument called a scalar to remove stubborn plaque, tartar, and build-up from your teeth.

The hygienist will also polish the surfaces of your teeth and use floss to clean between your teeth. At the end of your appointment, they will apply fluoride to strengthen your tooth enamel and help prevent cavities and tooth decay.

During your visit, your dentist will check any X-rays for signs of cavities and examine your mouth for any signs of tooth decay, gum disease, or other oral health issues. Catching problems early allows your dentist to treat them before they become more serious.

If you have good dental health, regular cleaning twice a year should be sufficient.

Periodontal Maintenance

If you have plaque and tartar build-up below your gum line, you will need a different type of dental care. This extra build-up between your teeth and gums causes the gums to pull away from the tooth. When the gums pull away, deep pockets can develop around and between your teeth. Food debris can get trapped in these pockets, creating a buffet for the bacteria in your mouth. And where there are bacteria, inflammation, and infections are sure to follow. If untreated, you can end up with periodontal or gum disease.

Gum disease will make your gums swollen and red. If you notice your gums look puffy in the mirror, it may be time to search for “teeth deep cleaning near me” to find a highly-rated local dentist. Over time, the infection in your gum tissue can lead to more severe problems like tooth loss, bone infections, and even heart disease.

To get your oral health moving in the right direction, your dentist will likely recommend a deeper cleaning called scaling and root planing to remove buildup and bacteria from the deep pockets around your teeth. After this deeper cleaning, periodontal maintenance is the best way to keep bacteria at bay and allow your mouth to return to full health.

Here’s what you can expect:

  1. Scaling and Root Planing: The hygienist will use special tools to remove plaque, tartar, and bacteria from the surface of your teeth and roots.
  2. Irrigation: The hygienist will flush out the pockets between your teeth and gums with an antimicrobial solution to kill any remaining bacteria.
  3. Periodontal Evaluation: The hygienist will assess your gums and bone and develop a treatment plan for you.

Removing plaque and tartar below the gum line and flushing out bacteria gives your gums time to heal and close up pockets of infection. If you have gum disease, you’ll likely need periodontal maintenance more than twice a year until your condition improves. The frequency of your appointments will depend on how deep the pockets around your teeth are and how quickly they heal.

Good Oral Health

Taking care of your oral health is essential to your overall well-being, and one crucial aspect of this is preventive care dentistry. Regular dental cleanings and periodontal maintenance are different procedures with a similar goal – giving you that healthy, camera-ready smile. However, the goal and approaches of each are unique.

While regular dental cleanings aim to prevent dental problems, periodontal maintenance is a specialized cleaning that focuses on restoring your oral health after your dentist detects a developing problem below the gum line. Knowing the differences between the two can help you understand why your dentist may recommend one over the other and what you can expect during your office visit.

Whether you are a regular at your dentist’s office or an infrequent visitor, scheduling a cleaning with a trusted dentist will put you on the path to healthy teeth and gums. You and your dentist can work together to develop a personalized cleaning plan to keep your teeth strong and your mouth healthy for years to come.


Regular dental visits for professional teeth cleaning are vital for overall health, even if they are not as fun as a bubble-filled car wash. They effectively remove stubborn plaque and buildup missed by home brushing. Like car washes, dental cleanings come at different levels. Depending on the time since your last visit, a standard cleaning (prophylaxis) may fall short, necessitating more thorough periodontal maintenance. Understanding and applying these terms can prevent major oral health issues in the future.

4 Easy Steps of Periodontal Maintenance Infographic


Periodontal Maintenance: What is it and Who Needs it?

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