Periodontal Pockets Lead to Gum & Bone Destruction
A breakdown of your gum and bones caused by bacteria can lead to pockets, or gaps, between your teeth and gum. If not treated, this condition can lead to gum and bone destruction. Typically this breakdown occurs after a few things happen:
- Bacteria (that causes periodontal disease) releases toxic substances, triggering the breakdown of gum and bone.
- The gum separates from the teeth, forming gaps, called periodontal pockets.
- Bacteria settles in the pockets because they can’t be removed by regular oral hygiene. The bacteria continue to accumulate and reproduce.
- Without treatment, bacteria continues to propagate, resulting in further gum and bone destruction.
Pocket Reduction Treatment
If you have periodontal disease, you will need to undergo treatment. An experienced dentist or specialized periodontist will be able to provide you with treatment, which often follows these steps:
- The dentist will remove bacteria (plaque & tartar) that inhabits the pockets.
- The dentist moves forward with root planing and scaling, which is one of the most effective ways to treat gum disease before it becomes severe. This involves cleaning between the gums and teeth to the roots.
- The dentist will provide you with specific instructions for maintaining oral hygiene, which helps to prevent bacteria from reinfecting the pockets.
- After a few weeks, the dentist will re-evaluate your case and assess your response to healing. If the periodontal pockets do not decrease and the gums are still unhealthy, surgical treatment may be needed.
Pocket depth reduction is a term used for a series of different surgical procedures performed by a periodontist or an oral surgeon aimed at gaining access to the root surface to effectively remove calculus and to reduce the size of the pockets to help prevent bacteria from settling in.
What to Expect from Pocket Reduction
Pocket depth reduction is done in our office with local anesthesia. After lifting the gum back, the bacterial plaque and tartar are removed from the root surfaces. Infected bone and gum tissue are removed and areas where bacteria can hide are cleaned and smoothed out. This allows gums to effectively reattach to healthy bone and eliminate gum pockets. Stitches are placed to aid in healing. The stitches are usually removed about ten days after the surgery. Follow-up appointments are scheduled as necessary to evaluate healing and plaque control.
Post-surgical discomfort may last a few days and is usually minimal. It can be easily managed with commonly available over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Patients can expect to follow their normal routine the day after surgery. We will provide special instructions related to diet, exercise, and medications.
Some side effects that may occur after the surgery include:
- Heightened tooth sensitivity. This is temporary and usually resolves within a few weeks. There are chemical aids available that help reduce sensitivity.
- Loose teeth. This also is a transient finding that occurs as part of the normal healing process. With proper plaque control and bite adjustment, the teeth usually tighten up in a few weeks.
- Spaces between teeth and longer teeth. Longer teeth are actually the result of periodontal disease, not of periodontal surgery. As periodontal disease infects and destroys the bone that encases the roots, the root surfaces become exposed. They do not appear exposed because they are covered by the inflamed, swollen gums that form the periodontal pocket. Without proper treatment, the periodontal pockets continue to deepen, giving way to more infection, bone loss, and eventually tooth loss and systemic complications. This will be addressed when you meet with a dental professional.
Find Out What’s Right For You
If periodontal pockets do not resolve after scaling and root planing, we may recommend pocket depth reduction performed by our partners at Colorado Oral Surgery Group. Each case is unique, and our team can help you decide if an oral surgeon visit is necessary! To set up an appointment fill out a form online.