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What is the Difference Between a Prophy and a Perio Maintenance Appointment?

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A prophy or “regular cleaning” appointment is generally recommended every 6 months for patients with healthy gums and bone. This patient displays good homecare, has healthy gum tissue, does not bleed upon light probing and has no pockets over 4mm. During this appointment we remove stain, soft plaque deposits and hard tarter mainly above the gum tissue on the crown of the tooth. Pocket depth measurements are generally recorded once per year. This procedure is prophylactic  and superficial in nature.

A perio maintenance appointment is performed on an individual in order to control the progression of their periodontal disease. This patient has been through a “deep cleaning” or root planing and curettage in the past to clean and disinfect the roots of the teeth. They have pocketing of 4mm and above, recession and bone loss/bone changes are evident by x-ray. The frequency of these appointments is generally every 3-4 months and includes scaling below the gumline in order to disinfect and control their disease progression. Pocket depth measurements are generally recorded more than once per year depending on clinical signs which may indicate active disease progression such as bleeding and inflammation. This procedure is therapeutic in nature and requires more skill and expertise than prophylaxis procedures as the majority of the work is done below the gumline. As in the case of diabetes, periodontal disease cannot be cured. It is a chronic condition requiring life-long monitoring and can be controlled. Due to this fact, once an individual is classified as a perio maintenance patient, they will not be classified as a prophy patient again.

The majority of dental insurances cover/partially cover 2 prophy appointments per year. Insurance may cover/partially cover up to 4 perio maintenance appointments per year. Each insurance policy is different and negotiated by your employer or yourself when you enter into the insurance plan. Our recommendations are based upon keeping our patients healthy, not upon what your insurance may or may not cover.

If you have any questions about your insurance coverage, your insurance company will be the best source for your answers.  As always, if you have questions about periodontal disease, your recall or your dental health, please do not hesitate to give SoundBridge a call.

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