Prophylaxis and periodontal maintenance are procedures with notable differences that have to be fully understood first in order to make a proper choice. Failing to understand what each procedure brings to the table can lead to less than desirable treatment results.

If you’re confused about why your dentist recommended that you be scheduled for periodontal maintenance when all you wanted was just to have your teeth cleaned, be sure to read on below.

Prophylaxis or Regular Cleaning

Prophylaxis or a prophy or, for simplicity’s sake, regular cleaning is a non-therapeutic dental procedure aimed toward the maintenance of a clean and healthy mouth.

Regular cleaning is often recommended only to patients who are not suffering from periodontal disease, bone loss, or any kind of infection around their teeth. Additionally, they should have no bleeding, loose teeth, receding gums, or exposed roots. Or, to put it simply, the mouth should be healthy with little to no dental issues.

Now, you may be asking, why exactly would a healthy mouth need cleaning? After all, it’s healthy, right? Well, even if it is healthy, that doesn’t mean it will stay that way, that is despite all your efforts to brush, floss and rinse your teeth regularly. Stains, plaque, and tartar can’t simply be removed via conventional means, which is why professional regular cleaning is necessary.

Regular cleaning is done usually twice or thrice a year, depending on the advice of the dentist. It’s also considered a preventative procedure by your dental insurance, as regular cleanings can help prevent gum disease and other dental problems.

Periodontal Maintenance

The main difference with periodontal maintenance is that it’s a type of treatment prescribed only to those who’ve been diagnosed with periodontitis, or the advanced form of gum disease. Because periodontitis is a chronic and non-curable bacterial infection, ongoing treatment is necessary and that is where periodontal maintenance comes in.

The main goal of periodontal maintenance is not to cure periodontitis, but rather, to keep it under control.

With periodontal maintenance, dental professionals remove plaque as well as calculus (tartar) from both above and below the gumline. This includes going all the way down to each tooth up to the point where the roots, gums, and bone structure meet.

The procedure also involves smoothing out rough areas of the root to make them less “hospitable” to plaque bacteria. Also, pockets are monitored carefully and those already inflamed are irrigated using antibacterial medicine.


Periodontal maintenance may also have to be done more frequently, or, less frequently, depending on the following factors: the speed that plaque and tartar accumulate, the degree of bleeding and inflammation, the stability of your current condition, how well you take care of your teeth at home, as well as other health risk factors that you may have (genetics, medication, other health complications and so on).

So, which is which?

Basically, it is up to your dentist to decide whether you need periodontal maintenance or simple prophylaxis. If you were recommended to get periodontal maintenance, it may mean that your dentist found out that you were already suffering from periodontitis and regular cleaning will not be enough to treat it.

Start on the road to a healthier mouth and schedule your next dental cleaning or periodontal maintenance with Tory Hill Dental at 207-929-6626. Visit the website at