After you’ve been diagnosed with gum disease and we’ve gotten the infection under control with gum therapy treatment, it’s important that you come back for your quarterly gum care visits every three months. You may be curious about how these gum care visits are different from traditional dental wellness visits and why you need to come more often. If you are, you’ve come to the right place.
What kind of visit did I previously have?
People with healthy mouths and no bone or gum problems come for a regular dental wellness visit every six months. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that’s only about half of Americans aged 30 or older. The other half have some degree of gum disease. A regular dental wellness cleaning removes soft plaque, tartar, and stains from your teeth above the gumline, and only slightly below. If you have insurance, your insurance carrier considers this a preventative service because helps prevent periodontal disease.
Why can’t I have this anymore?
Now that we’ve discovered and treated an active infection in your mouth, a regular dental wellness visit is no longer appropriate. During your initial gum therapy visit, we removed excess plaque, tartar and bacteria from below the gum line to allow your gums to heal and to get bacterial levels under control. To keep bacterial levels low enough to prevent bone loss, we need to see you every three months for a gum care visit during which we clean below the gumline.
Wait a minute…active infection?
Everyone has bacteria that lives naturally in your mouth. Gum disease is caused by too much bad bacteria, and the build-up of plaque and tartar. Your body sees the plaque and tartar as a foreign invader and activates your immune system to fight it. It’s sort of like when your immune system works to fight the bacteria that causes a sinus infection or cold. Unfortunately, the immune attack against to the bacteria, plaque, and tartar also affects healthy gum tissue and the jaw bone. This causes swelling, bleeding, bad breath and bone/gum tissue loss. As gum disease progresses, so does the destruction of your bone and tissues in your mouth.
So what happens during a gum care visit?
During a gum care visit, we’ll give your immune system a hand by removing bacteria, plaque and tartar from both above and below your gumline. We’ll carefully monitor pocket depths that help indicate the health of your gums, and we’ll clean any inflamed pockets with a special antibacterial wash. You don’t need to be numb for a gum care visit, but to make sure you’re comfortable we’ll offer a topical numbing gel if you’d like.
Why every three months?
It’s all about keeping the bacterial levels in check. Since you have gum disease, we know that the bacterial mix in your mouth will activate your immune response if it’s not managed properly. Studies have shown that it takes 12 weeks (or three months) for the strains of bacteria that cause gum disease to colonize and reach levels that can cause harm.
What does this mean for my insurance?
Because this visit is treating an existing condition, your insurance provider might not consider it a preventative service. That means it might be covered at a different percentage than a traditional dental wellness cleaning, and your deductible might apply. Many insurance companies only cover two visits a year, but we have options available to help supplement your insurance and make four visits a year manageable.
You mentioned this is linked to my overall health. Why?
We know that there is a relationship between chronic inflammation in the gums and overall health, especially heart disease and diabetes. Your immune system is really meant to fight acute infections quickly. When it’s continuously activated to fight an on-going disease like gum disease, it’s less effective in fighting other illnesses.