In a healthy mouth, the space between teeth and gums is less than 3 millimeters (mm) in depth. When gum disease develops, these spaces become deeper, known as periodontal pockets. These pockets can be difficult to clean, even with professional cleaning by a hygienist. If left untreated, these pockets can get deeper, leading to tooth loss. Pocket reduction surgery, also known as osseous surgery, is used to reduce the depth of periodontal pockets and eliminate bacteria. In this blog post, we will discuss what pocket reduction surgery is, how it is performed, and recovery time.
What is Pocket Reduction Surgery?
Pocket reduction surgery, also known as osseous surgery, is a dental procedure that aims to treat periodontal pockets caused by periodontitis, an advanced stage of gum disease. Dental plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria that accumulates on teeth and gums. If not removed, the plaque can irritate the gum tissue and cause inflammation, leading to gingivitis.
If gingivitis is not treated, it can progress to periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease characterized by the destruction of the supporting structures around teeth. In periodontitis, the gums pull away from the teeth, forming periodontal pockets.
Periodontal pockets are difficult to clean and may continue to get deeper, leading to:
- Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Teeth sensitivity
- Pain or discomfort when chewing
- Teeth appearing longer than usual
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Tooth loss due to bone and tissue destruction
Pocket reduction surgery is effective for periodontal pockets and is part of a comprehensive gum disease treatment plan. It can reduce pocket depths, eliminate bacteria, and restore the health of your gums.
How is Pocket Reduction Surgery Performed?
Periodontal reduction surgery is performed under local anesthesia by a periodontist.
During the procedure, the periodontist will first make small incisions in your gums to access the area underneath. Then, the periodontist will perform a deep cleaning to remove plaque and tartar (hardened plaque).
Additionally, they will smooth irregularly shaped or damaged bone caused by periodontitis. In severe periodontal disease bone loss, the periodontist may recommend a bone graft and guided tissue regenerative membranes to restore the area. You can read more about treatments for bone loss in teeth.
Finally, the periodontist will suture the gums back and prescribe an antibiotic to help clear the infection.
Benefits of Pocket Reduction Surgery
Pocket reduction surgery has many benefits, including:
- Reducing the risk of tooth loss
- Preventing further gum and bone damage
- Improving oral hygiene by making it easier to reach and clean the teeth
- Relieving discomfort caused by gum disease
- Eliminating bad breath caused by gum disease.
- Improving the appearance of your smile
Risks of Pocket Reduction Surgery
Although pocket reduction surgery is a safe and effective procedure, there are some potential risks. These may include:
- Severe pain
- Excessive bleeding
- Teeth sensitivity
- Gum recession and unfavorable cosmetic results
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your periodontist immediately.
Recovery and Post-Surgery Care
The recovery time for pocket reduction surgery typically takes a few days, depending on the severity of your condition. During this time, you may experience swelling and discomfort.
Post-surgery, your periodontist will give you instructions on how to care for your teeth and gums, including:
- Avoid hot foods and drinks in the first 24 hours
- Don’t rinse or spit for the first 24 hours
- Apply a cold compress or ice pack to the side of your face to reduce swelling
- Take the prescribed medications, such as antibiotics or pain medications
- Brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush, but avoid the site of the surgery
- Eat soft, cool foods and avoid spicy and acidic foods for the first few days
- Avoid using tobacco products for at least 5 days after your procedure.
- Rinse your mouth with a saltwater solution to reduce irritation and infection
- Attend follow-up appointments to monitor healing progress
Pocket reduction surgery is used to treat periodontal pockets caused by periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease. It involves folding back the gum tissue and removing plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) from the roots of your teeth. Then, the gum tissue is sutured back into place, and healing can begin.
The procedure offers several benefits, including preventing further damage, improving oral health, and restoring the aesthetics of your smile.
Although pocket reduction surgery is safe, it carries potential risks, such as pain, infection, and swelling. Follow your periodontist’s instructions for post-surgery care and attend regular follow-up appointments to ensure your gums are healing properly.