Periodontal Pockets: What Does it Mean If You Have Them

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Ideally, your gums should fit nice and snugly around your teeth and the gap between your teeth and gums should be minimal. Your periodontist can measure how well your gums fit by gently probing them with a special instrument. This isn’t painful, but measures the depth of any gaps in between your teeth and gums. In a healthy mouth the gap will be between 1mm and 3mm but if you have any signs of gum disease then this gap can be 5mm or more in depth. Where the gaps are greater, your gums will have begun to pull away from the teeth, causing spaces that are called periodontal pockets.


Why Are Periodontal Pockets a Problem?

Periodontal pockets create substantial problems for your dental health as they are a sign that gum disease has already caused significant damage to your gums and quite possibly to other structures supporting your teeth. These pockets are caused by bacteria building up on your teeth and gums, irritating and inflaming your gum tissue so it begins to pull away from your teeth. Periodontal pockets can become quite deep and are the perfect home for the bacteria that cause gum disease, resulting in further loss of gum tissue and eventually in the loss of dental bone and ligaments used to support your teeth. Eventually, if the destruction is too great then your teeth will become loose and will need to be extracted.


What Is the Treatment for Periodontal Pockets

Treatment can be provided by a specialized dentist called a periodontist, for example D & D Periodontal Associates. It will focus on reducing the size of these pockets, helping your gums to fit more snugly around your teeth and at the same time it should make your gums easier to keep clean. During this treatment our periodontist will fold back the gums, carefully removing damaged tissue and smoothing any exposed bone to reduce further infection. The idea of this treatment is to remove as much of the infection as possible before stitching the gums back into place. Periodontal pocket reduction is also sometimes called flap surgery as during this procedure the gum tissue is lifted away from the bone and flapped backwards to provide better access to the infection.


What to Expect After Periodontal Pockets Treatment

Treatment can be extremely effective but it’s important to make sure you follow it up with good home dental care as well as any ongoing treatment we may recommend. It’s vital that you maintain good oral hygiene after treatment as otherwise the bacteria will begin to build up again. As well as home oral care, we may suggest more frequent cleanings to help reduce any further bacterial buildup.

Once your gums have healed after periodontal pocket reduction you should notice that they begin to fit more snugly around your teeth. However the damage caused by gum disease can cause permanent gum recession. If this is the case we can provide further surgery to help cover up any exposed tooth surfaces, creating a more pleasing cosmetic appearance.