Gum pockets, also known as periodontal pockets, are spaces that form between the tooth and gums as a result of periodontitis. These pockets allow the accumulation of food and bacteria between gums and teeth, causing inflammation in the gums and pain. If they are left untreated, they can lead to damage to the tooth-supporting tissues and tooth loss. In this article, we will discuss what causes gum pockets, what factors contribute to their occurrence, and how you can prevent them from developing.
What Causes Gum Pockets?
Generally, poor oral hygiene is what causes gum pockets. Gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease, is an inflammatory disease that usually affects the gums. It occurs due to the accumulation of a sticky film of bacteria, known as dental plaque, on the gums and teeth as a result of poor oral hygiene. This plaque buildup irritates the gums, causing redness and swelling. If the plaque isn’t removed and gingivitis isn’t treated, the infection may spread to the tooth-supporting tissues. This condition is known as periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease.
Periodontitis causes the gum to pull away from the tooth, which causes gum pockets. Gum pockets allow the accumulation of food debris and act as a breeding ground for bacteria, which increases the severity of the gum disease. These pockets increase in size over time if not treated. The size of gum pockets typically determines their severity, which is measured in millimeters (mm).
- Healthy: 1 – 3 mm
- Mild: 4 – 5 mm
- Moderate: 5 – 7 mm
- Severe: 7 – 12 mm
What are The Other Causes & Risk Factors of Gum Pockets?
What’s more, several factors can cause the development of gum pockets. They include what you eat, genetics, your age, medications, stress, and smoking. These factors contribute to gum disease and gum pockets.
- Smoking: people who smoke are more likely to develop periodontitis because it weakens the immune system, making it difficult for your body to fight infection and heal.
- Your Diet: Gum disease is closely linked to what you eat. A diet high in carbohydrates and sugar can lead to an increase in the level of bacteria present in your mouth.
- Vitamin C deficiency: it can weaken the gums and make them more susceptible to inflammation. Smoking also interferes with the absorption of vitamin C.
- Stress: it also plays a role in what causes gum pockets because stress weakens your immune system.
- Bruxism (teeth grinding/clenching): it can put pressure on the teeth and gums, causing damage to the periodontal ligaments and the development of gum pockets.
- Medications: some medications, such as steroids, anti-seizure drugs, and certain antidepressants have been found to increase the risk of gum disease since they suppress the immune system.
- Illnesses: Diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome and lupus are illnesses that make your body more susceptible to gum disease.
- Age: as you age, your gums become more sensitive and are more likely to bleed when you brush your teeth. This increases the risk of gum disease and can cause what is known as deep periodontal/gum pockets.
- Genetics: Your genes also play a role in what causes gum pockets.
What are The Complications that Gum Pockets Causes?
If what causes gum pockets is left untreated, it can lead to several complications. The complications include:
- Pain with chewing.
- Gum recession.
- A gum abscess (periodontal abscess) due to the spread of infection below the gumline.
- A tooth abscess (periapical abscess) due to the spread of the infection to the tooth pulp.
- loose teeth and eventually tooth loss.
So, you need to visit your dentist immediately to treat gum disease and gum pockets. Read more about treatment options for missing bottom front teeth.
If what causes gum pockets is left untreated, it may lead to advanced periodontitis and complications associated with it. In such a case, treatment is essential. Treatment options include what you can do at home and what your dentist can do during an appointment.
Home Care: What Can You Do?
You need to practice good oral hygiene habits to treat what causes gum pockets. This includes
- Brush your teeth twice daily with a soft toothbrush.
- Use fluoride toothpaste for about two minutes.
- Floss at least once a day to remove foods and plaque from between teeth.
- Use a mouth rinse at least twice daily.
- Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water.
- See your dentist regularly for checkups to monitor what causes gum pockets and reverse the condition before it worsens and leads to tooth loss.
At the Dental Office: What Can Your Dentist Do?
Your dentist may perform scaling and root planing to treat what causes gum pockets. Scaling removes tartar and plaque from your teeth while root planing smoothes the surface of your teeth, removing plaque build-up. In severe cases, your dentist may go even further with pocket reduction or flap surgery.
What Causes Gum Pockets – Conclusion
If you noticed a sharp increase in pain when chewing or brushing your teeth, it may be due to gum disease and pockets. What causes gum pockets? It could be from poor oral hygiene, genetic causes, smoking, medications like steroids or anti-seizure drugs, stress levels that suppress the immune system, or even your diet. You need to practice good oral hygiene habits. Also, your dentist can treat the problem by performing scaling and root planing. In severe cases, they may recommend pocket reduction surgery.