The oral environment exists in a continuous battle between bacteria and plaque attempting to infiltrate the gingival system and the body attempting to keep them out. If the balance teeters in the direction of the bacteria and plaque for too long, there can be irreversible damage done to the gums and bone. This disease process is known as periodontitis, and the most important distinction of periodontitis is that it leads to the loss of supporting bone around the teeth.
Once there has been bone loss due to periodontitis, it cannot be regained. The most important consideration for the periodontitis patient is aimed towards prevention of progression of bone loss and maintenance of affected areas. The process by which we stop periodontitis is first through a treatment called “Scaling and Root Planing”. This treatment is usually completed in two separate appointments where one half of the mouth is treated at a time. During this treatment, the root and tooth surfaces are thoroughly debrided of bacteria and plaque, which will begin the process of halting the disease.
Once the Scaling and Root Planing treatments have been completed it is necessary that the patient be seen at increased intervals to ensure that the patients gum tissue and bone remain stable. These treatments are known as “Periodontal Maintenance” and are specifically used as a treatment for patients who have had periodontal disease. Once a patient requires this therapy, they will require it for the rest of their life due to the body’s inability to regain bone support once it has been lost.