Periodontitis is characterized by the destruction of the bone and soft tissue surrounding the teeth. As a result, the gums can recede from the teeth and form pockets which collect bacteria and debris and can become infected. Ultimately if left untreated, there can be loss of teeth as the bone deteriorates. Pocket reduction surgery is used to reduce the depth of pockets, and thus the chance that bacteria can do damage.
How Do You Know If You Need Pocket Reduction Surgery?
Your periodontist will use a periodontal probe (small dental instrument) to gently measure the space between the tooth and the gums. A healthy depth measures three millimeters or less and does not bleed. If pockets are greater than 5 millimeters in depth, the periodontist would conduct pocket reduction surgery. Drs. Stilley and Lieber discuss that most patients who have been diagnosed with moderate to severe periodontitis will benefit from this procedure.
What Is Pocket Reduction Surgery?
Pocket reduction surgery, also known as osseous surgery, isn't as scary as it sounds. It is an in-office procedure and improvements in medications, local anesthesia, anxiety and pain control are available to make your treatment more pleasant and comfortable. In this procedure, your surgeon folds back the gums and removes bacteria. Depending on the severity of the bone loss, the periodontist may also perform a bone graft or guided tissue regeneration before reattaching the gum tissue against your teeth. The length of time for the surgery will vary depending on the procedure and how many teeth are involved, but we would be able to give you an estimate of how long it would take.
What Should I Expect After Surgery?
Following the surgery, the treated areas will be covered with a bandage that looks like pink chewing gum. You will receive post-operation instructions from our staff, which will include rinsing your mouth with either an anti bacterial mouthwash or warm salt water and applying ice packs to reduce your swelling. You will be instructed to take anti-inflammatory medications for the first 48 hours.
Patients at Periodontal Health Center are usually eating normally within a day or two, and would usually be instructed to come back to our office for a follow-up checkup after about two weeks. After periodontal treatment, you will most likely be on a more frequent preventative-maintenance schedule for cleanings and checkups.
Dr. Steven Lieber adds, "attacking periodontal disease in its earliest stages is always the best choice for a good outcome. It is important to get an evaluation of your teeth and pockets early to prevent further damage to your gums, teeth, and bone."