Your bone and gum tissue should fit snugly around your teeth like a turtleneck around your neck. When you have periodontal disease, this supporting tissue and bone is destroyed, forming “pockets” around the teeth.Over time, these pockets become deeper, providing a larger space for bacteria to live. As bacteria develop around the teeth, they can accumulate and advance under the gum tissue. These deep pockets collect even more bacteria, resulting in further bone and tissue loss. Eventually, if too much bone is lost, the teeth will need to be extracted.
Pocket Reduction Surgery
Pocket reduction surgery is an in-office procedure where a periodontal surgeon folds back the tissue of the gums and removes the bacteria. In some cases a bone graft or a reattaching of the gum tissue around the teeth is necessary. Local anesthesia is used during the procedure, and the length of time needed for the surgery varies by how many teeth are involved, and the severity of the damage.
The objective of pocket reduction surgery is to reduce the depth of existing pockets to a level that can be kept clean of bacteria with normal brushing and flossing. Reduced pocket depth helps the periodontal maintenance cleanings to be more effective. This procedure does not regenerate bone that has previously been lost.
After the surgery, the treated areas of the teeth are covered with a bandage that looks like pink chewing gum. Our patients are usually instructed to take anti-inflammatory medications for the first 48-hours, and are advised to rinse their mouths with warm salt water or an antibacterial mouthwash. Ice packs can also help to reduce the swelling.
It usually only takes a day or two, before our patients are feeling up to eating normally. A follow-up visit is usually scheduled about two weeks after surgery.
Dr. Stephen Lieber adds, “Once periodontal disease has begun, you will most likely also need a frequent preventive-maintenance schedule for cleanings and checkups. It is important to get an evaluation of your teeth and pockets early to prevent further damage to your gums, teeth, and bone.”