How to Treat Deep Pockets: Gum Disease
When it comes to dental health, the first risk that comes to many people’s minds is tooth decay. However, the most common dental problem among adults is actually gum disease. While most cases of gum disease are mild and present no immediate danger, it is possible for the infection to spread further into the gums and roots of teeth, leading to decay and tissue loss.
If disease has formed pockets of bacteria within gums, the gums should be cleaned and refitted against teeth before additional complications arise. For our patients in Brooklyn and the surrounding areas, we offer pocket reduction treatment as a way to stop gum disease in its tracks.
How Do Pockets Form within the Gums?
Gum disease, initially seen as gingivitis, is simply an inflammation of the gums. Initially, this causes gum tissue to become reddened, swollen, or sensitive. As gingivitis progresses, it can cause gums to recede or pull away from the teeth, allowing bacteria to gather in this space. Similar to how plaque forms on teeth, it can find its way under the loosened gums, causing infection to spread and the space to grow deeper. Eventually, empty “pockets” form under the gums, allowing bacteria to grow where a toothbrush cannot reach.
These infected pockets are not only symptoms of advanced gum disease, but they also pose additional risks. The roots of teeth can become infected, leading to decay and the possible need for root canal treatment. Surrounding bone tissue can also decay from disease, loosening teeth and ultimately requiring their extraction. At this point, gingivitis has led to periodontitis, which brings additional health risks and dental complications.
Reducing Pockets of Gum Disease
If you believe you may suffer from gum disease, consult your dentist or periodontist. For most patients, gingivitis can be controlled through at-home hygiene and responsible dental care. Patients who show symptoms of more advanced gum disease, however, may require professional treatment. By measuring the depth of pockets beneath the gums, your cosmetic dentist can determine whether infection can be addressed through a minimally invasive deep cleaning, or if flap surgery is required.
For flap surgery, also called pocket reduction surgery, you can expect the following at our office:
- You will be administered local anesthesia to limit discomfort, sometimes also coupled with a sedative, at Dr. Stanislaus’ and your discretion.
- Gum tissue will be lifted back and away from the gums, allowing access to deep pockets of infection.
- Plaque and tartar will be removed from teeth and gums. Antibiotics may also be used to prevent future infection.
- Roots of teeth will be made smooth. This discourages bacteria from adhering to any rough spots, while also helping gums to heal and reattach after treatment.
- The gums will be sutured in place and left to heal around teeth.
After flap surgery, signs of infection should be significantly reduced. With proper hygiene and preventative care, gum disease can be controlled or removed altogether.
Keep Gum Disease In Check
In order to prevent the spread of gum disease and the subsequent need for treatment, it’s important to maintain good dental habits - both at home and through routine professional check-ups. Here are some basic guidelines for keeping your gums and teeth healthy:
- Brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste
- Floss daily
- Use an ADA approved mouthwash
- Drink plenty of water to rinse teeth and gums
- Stop any tobacco use
- Schedule routine professional cleanings
- Control any illnesses that increase the risk of infection (e.g., diabetes)
Schedule an Appointment with Us
Whether you require treatment for gum disease or want a routine hygiene cleaning, we are eager to assist you in all matters concerning your dental health. Contact our office to schedule an appointment or to inquire about any of our cosmetic, restorative, and general dentistry services.