Bone and gum tissue should fit snugly around the base of the teeth. When periodontal disease is present, this supporting tissue and bone is destroyed, forming “pockets” around the teeth. Over time, these pockets become deeper, providing a large 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.
When deep pocketing is present around the teeth, routine oral hygiene procedures and routine dental cleanings are not sufficient to remove all of the harmful bacteria present. Elimination of the pocketing around the teeth is important in creating an oral environment that can be easily maintained in a state of health.
Non-surgical pocket reduction
Depending on the depth of the pocketing, a non-surgical procedure may be recommended initially. This procedure is referred to as “scaling and root planing” or a “deep cleaning.” This procedure is performed under local anesthetic, using many of the same instruments involved in a traditional cleaning. With the addition of local anesthetic, the teeth may be cleaned more thoroughly without the patient experiencing discomfort from sensitive areas of the gums or teeth.
This procedure is effective in reducing bacterial levels and inflammation in the gum tissues, while also removing tarter buildups attached to the roots of the teeth.
Surgical pocket reduction
If advanced pocketing is present, a surgical procedure may be recommended to thoroughly clean the teeth and reduce the bacterial levels. Utilizing local anesthetic, in combination with intravenous or conscious sedation when needed, greater access can be obtained to remove the disease-causing bacteria before securing the tissue back into place with small sutures. In some cases, irregular surfaces of the damaged bone are smoothed to limit areas where disease-causing bacteria can hide. This allows the gum tissue to better reattach to healthy bone. A newer method of treating appropriate cases with a surgical laser allows for similar results as the traditional approach without the need for sutures.
Because no two patients are ever the same, at your initial examination the doctor will determine which therapy is most appropriate for your specific case.
What are the benefits of this procedure?
Reducing pocket depth and eliminating existing bacteria are important to prevent damage caused by the progression of periodontal disease and to help maintain a healthy smile. Eliminating bacteria alone may not be sufficient to prevent disease recurrence. Deeper pockets are more difficult for you and your dental care professional to clean, so it’s important to reduce them.
Reduced pockets and a combination of daily oral hygiene and professional maintenance care increase the chances of keeping the natural teeth – and decrease the chance of serious health problems associated with periodontal disease.