Beneath the Surface: Periodontal Maintenance vs. Regular Cleaning

Discover the difference between periodontal maintenance and regular cleaning. Learn which is best for your oral health. Prevent gum disease and improve overall health!

Nadia Lushow

6/25/20237 min read

Beyond the Surface: The Importance of Periodontal Maintenance for Optimal Dental Health

Maintaining good dental health is important for overall health and well-being. Poor dental hygiene can lead to a variety of dental problems, such as cavities, gum disease, tooth loss, and bad breath. In addition, research has shown that poor oral health has been linked to other serious health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

There are two types of professional cleanings that dentists use to help patients maintain their dental health: regular cleaning and periodontal maintenance. While both cleanings are designed to improve dental hygiene and prevent oral diseases, they differ in terms of the level of cleaning needed.

The Importance of Dental Health

Dental hygiene plays a crucial role in maintaining overall physical health. Good oral care helps prevent gum disease and tooth decay while also promoting healthy teeth and gums.

The mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria that can spread throughout the body if left unchecked. Poor oral hygiene can lead to serious infections that affect other organs such as the heart or lungs.

In addition to these physical concerns, poor dental hygiene can also have social implications. Bad breath or visible signs of decay on teeth can significantly affect one's self-confidence and make it difficult to interact with others comfortably.

Difference Between Periodontal Maintenance and Regular Cleaning

While all cleanings involve removing plaque from teeth surfaces, there is a significant difference between periodontal maintenance (PM) cleaning versus regular cleaning (RC). Regular cleanings are recommended every six months for most patients who have good oral hygiene practices at home with no evidence of gum or bone disease.

These visits typically involve scaling (cleaning) above the gum line where bacteria reside along with polishing and flossing techniques. Periodontal Maintenance is recommended every three or four months when deep pockets occur below the gums due to inflammation associated with chronic periodontitis (gum disease).

The cleaning involves a more in-depth approach to remove calculus (tartar) that has accumulated both above and below the gum line. Root planing, which smooths out rough spots on the root surfaces, may also be performed during PM.

Regular Cleaning

Definition and Purpose

Regular cleaning is a preventive dental procedure that removes plaque, tartar, and stains from the surfaces of teeth. It's also known as prophylaxis. The purpose of this cleaning is to maintain good oral hygiene and prevent future dental problems such as decay, gum disease, and bad breath.

Regular cleaning is typically done by a dental hygienist or dentist during a routine check-up appointment. The procedure involves scaling and polishing.

Scaling removes plaque and tartar from the surfaces of teeth using special tools like ultrasonic scalers or hand instruments. Polishing then removes stains caused by coffee, tea, tobacco, or other substances using a rotating rubber cup and polishing paste.

Frequency of Regular Cleaning

The frequency of regular cleaning varies depending on individual needs. Most dentists recommend getting this type of cleaning every six months to maintain optimal oral health.

However, certain factors like age, smoking habits, medical conditions like diabetes or periodontal disease may require more frequent cleanings. It's important to follow your dentist's recommendations for regular cleanings as they can help prevent future dental problems before they become more serious issues that require extensive treatments.

Procedure and Tools Used for Regular Cleaning

The procedure for regular cleaning usually begins with an examination of the teeth and gums to identify any issues that need to be addressed during the cleaning process. Once identified the hygienist will use specialized tools such as scrapers or ultrasonic scalers to remove plaque buildup above and below the gum line. After plaque removal comes polishing where rotational toothbrushes are used along with mildly abrasive paste which helps remove surface stains present on teeth. The final step in this process is fluoride treatment where fluoride gel is applied onto your teeth which strengthens tooth enamel thereby reducing chances of developing cavities.

Overall, regular cleanings are an essential part of maintaining good oral hygiene. They can help prevent future dental problems, save you money on expensive procedures, and improve your overall health by reducing the risk of other diseases.

Periodontal Maintenance

Definition and Purpose

Periodontal maintenance is a specialized dental cleaning procedure that is recommended for individuals who have previously been diagnosed with gum disease. The primary goal of periodontal maintenance is to prevent the progression of gum disease by removing bacteria and tartar from below the gumline, where regular cleanings cannot reach. Additionally, periodontal maintenance helps to control inflammation, promote healing, and maintain the health of your teeth and gums.

Frequency of Periodontal Maintenance

The frequency of periodontal maintenance appointments varies depending on the severity of gum disease. For individuals with mild to moderate gum disease, it may be recommended that they receive periodontal maintenance every three to four months.

For those with more advanced cases, appointments may be recommended every two months or even monthly. It's essential to follow your dentist's recommendations for frequency as skipping or delaying appointments can lead to worsening symptoms and even tooth loss.

Procedure and Tools Used for Periodontal Maintenance

The procedure for periodontal maintenance is like that of a regular cleaning but focuses on the areas below the gumline. The process involves several steps, including scaling (removing plaque and tartar), root planing (smoothing rough spots on tooth roots), polishing (smoothing surfaces), fluoride application (strengthening enamel), and oral cancer screening.

Dental professionals use specialized tools such as ultrasonic scalers, hand scalers, curettes, air polishers in conjunction with local anesthesia for optimal comfort during cleaning procedures. It's important not to miss these appointments as they can greatly improve one's overall oral health by treating gum disease effectively through deep cleanings performed regularly by a professional dental hygienist or dentist.

Differences between Regular Cleaning and Periodontal Maintenance

Depth of Cleaning

The primary difference between regular cleaning and periodontal maintenance is the depth of the cleaning. While regular cleaning focuses on removing plaque and tartar from the surfaces of the teeth, periodontal maintenance also cleans below the gum line. This deep cleaning is necessary because periodontal disease can cause pockets to form between the gums and teeth, which can trap bacteria and cause further damage if left untreated.

During a periodontal maintenance appointment, your dentist will use special instruments to reach below the gum line and remove any buildup that may be present. This process is known as scaling and root planing, and it may require multiple appointments depending on the severity of your condition.

Targeted Areas

Another difference between regular cleaning and periodontal maintenance is that regular cleaning is typically a more generalized approach to maintaining dental health, while periodontal maintenance focuses on specific areas that need attention. During a regular cleaning appointment, your dentist will clean all surfaces of your teeth, including those hard-to-reach places like between teeth or behind molars.

In contrast, during a periodontal maintenance appointment, your dentist will target areas where pockets have formed between gums and teeth. By focusing on these specific areas where bacteria tend to accumulate, you can prevent further damage from occurring.


The cost differences between regular cleaning versus periodontal maintenance are often reflective of the amount of time required for each type of procedure. Regular cleanings typically take less time than deep cleanings because they don't require as much precision or specialized equipment.

Therefore, they are often less expensive than Periodontal Maintenance procedures. However, it's essential not to let cost be a deciding factor when it comes to determining which type of dental care you need.

If you have signs or symptoms of periodontal disease, such as bleeding gums or bad breath, it's essential to seek professional care as soon as possible. Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss or even more significant health problems.

Benefits of Periodontal Maintenance over Regular Cleaning

Preventing Gum Disease

Periodontal maintenance is a more comprehensive cleaning that targets the buildup of plaque and tartar below the gum line. This is important because when plaque and tartar accumulate, they can lead to gum disease. Gum disease begins as gingivitis, which causes inflammation, redness, and bleeding of the gums.

If left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis, which causes bone loss and even tooth loss. Periodontal maintenance includes scaling and root planing, which involves removing the buildup of plaque and tartar below the gum line.

This deep cleaning allows for optimal healing and prevents further damage to the gums. By preventing gum disease through periodontal maintenance, individuals can avoid costly dental procedures down the road and maintain their overall oral health.

Improving Overall Oral Health

A healthy mouth is essential for overall health. Poor oral health has been linked to various systemic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, respiratory infections, and even pregnancy complications. By maintaining good oral hygiene practices like brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing regularly, eating a healthy diet low in sugar, and seeing a dentist regularly for cleanings or other necessary treatments individuals can help maintain their oral health while reducing their risk for other diseases.

Periodontal maintenance helps improve overall oral health by removing bacteria that cause gum disease or other dental issues that require more complex treatments later if not addressed promptly through professional cleaning at regular intervals. Reducing the Risk of Other Diseases

Reducing The Risk of Other Diseases

As noted earlier, poor oral hygiene has been linked to several systemic diseases such as diabetes mellitus type 2 (DMT2), cardiovascular disease (CVD), respiratory infections (RI) among others. Regular professional cleanings, and especially periodontal maintenance, reduce the risk of other diseases.

When bacteria accumulate in the gums, they can enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body. This can lead to inflammation in different parts of the body that can contribute to various diseases like DMT2 or CVD.

Regular cleanings help remove bacteria from the mouth before it has a chance to enter the bloodstream. By reducing bacterial load through periodontal maintenance, individuals not only improve their overall oral health but also reduce their risk of developing potentially life-threatening systemic diseases.


Summary of the differences between periodontal maintenance and regular cleaning.

Regular cleaning is a preventive measure that involves removing plaque and tartar buildup from the teeth to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Periodontal maintenance, on the other hand, is more focused on treating and preventing gum disease by addressing the buildup of bacteria in deep pockets below the gum line. Regular cleaning is done every six months, while periodontal maintenance requires more frequent visits to the dentist.

Importance of maintaining dental health through proper hygiene practices, including professional cleanings.

Maintaining dental health should be a top priority for everyone. Good dental hygiene practices such as brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and using mouthwash can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

However, even with good oral hygiene practices at home, professional cleanings are necessary to maintain optimal oral health. Regular cleanings can identify problems early before they become major issues that require more invasive treatment.

Schedule a consultation with a dentist to determine which type of cleaning is best for individual needs.

If you are unsure whether regular cleaning or periodontal maintenance is right for you, it's best to consult with your dentist. A qualified dentist can evaluate your oral health needs and advise you on which type of cleaning is most appropriate based on your individual situation.

Remember that prevention is key when it comes to maintaining dental health, so don't delay scheduling your next appointment. Maintaining good dental health requires consistent effort both at home and through regular visits to the dentist for professional cleanings.

Choosing between regular cleaning or periodontal maintenance depends on an individual's needs as determined by their dentist. By incorporating these practices into their routine care routine individuals can enjoy healthy teeth free from decay or disease well into old age