Did you know that you have gum pockets? If your gums are healthy, pink, and firm you probably are not familiar with the term. It is usually only when your gums are infected that the pockets begin to form. When you develop periodontal disease, your gums begin to pull away from your teeth forming spaces called pockets. As the disease progresses these pockets become deeper and collect bacteria. Your dentist can measure your pockets with a periodontal probe. If your periodontal pockets are more than 4 millimeters deep then you have periodontitis (the severe form of gum disease). If your gums are severely diseased, you may require pocket reduction surgery.
Periodontal disease can make your smile look sickly and that’s because your gums are “sick.” They are diseased. Periodontitis is caused by the buildup of bacterial plaque that causes gingival irritation and infection. Your gums begin to pull away from your teeth (receding gums), and your roots are left exposed to harmful bacteria. Periodontal disease is the major cause of tooth loss. When your periodontal pockets become infected, your gums can ooze pus, bleed, and turn brown. But all is not lost…yet.
It is not too late to treat the disease and save your smile and your teeth. Pocket reduction surgery cleans away the bacterial plaque and tartar that has formed beneath your gum line and is eating away at the periodontal ligaments, the roots of your teeth, and eventually your underlying jawbone. The procedure includes:
- Gently separating the gum from the tooth
- Using hand instruments and special ultrasonic dental tools to remove the plaque and hardened tartar
- Administering an antimicrobial liquid to kill the bacteria and encourage healing
Unlike gingivitis which can be reversed, periodontal disease cannot be healed, but it can be treated and controlled. Pocket reduction surgery is one way to treat severe periodontal disease and restore your gums to health.