Pocket reduction surgery, also known as gingivectomy, osseous surgery and flap surgery, is a collective term for several different surgeries aimed at gaining access to the roots of the teeth in order to remove bacteria and decrease pocket depth.

The human mouth contains hundreds of different types of bacteria at any given time. There are specific bacteria found in plaque under the gum line that cause an inflammatory response that can ultimately lead to periodontal disease.

Periodontal infections cause a chronic inflammatory response in the body that destroys bone and gum tissues. Gum pockets continuously form between the gums and teeth as the tissue is slowly destroyed.

Periodontal disease is a progressive condition which, if left untreated, results in bacterial colonization in gum pockets and eventually tooth loss.  Pocket reduction surgery eliminates the disease-causing bacteria and eliminates the bacteria-harboring pockets.

Reasons for the pocket reduction surgery:

  • Reducing bacterial spread – Many species of bacteria found in the oral cavity have been linked to other serious conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. This is because oral bacteria can travel from the mouth, through the bloodstream, to various parts of the body.

  • Halting bone loss – The chronic inflammatory response induced by oral bacteria leads to periodontal destruction.  As the jawbone becomes affected by periodontal disease, the teeth lose their rigid anchor. When the teeth become too loose, they may require extraction.

  • Facilitate home care – As the gum pockets become progressively deeper, they become incredibly difficult for you to clean. The toothbrush and dental floss cannot reach to the bottom of the pockets, increasing the risk of further periodontal infection.

What does pocket reduction surgery involve?

Before recommending treatment or performing any procedure, the doctors will perform a thorough examination in order to assess the condition of the teeth, gums and underlying bone. This information allows Dr. Ramirez and Dr. Gonzalez to develop the most appropriate plan for treating the damage caused by the disease and minimizing the potential for future destruction. If pocket reduction surgery is found to be the most appropriate treatment, it is performed under local anesthesia.

The gums are gently pulled back from the teeth and bacteria and calculus will be eliminated. Scaling will be required to fully remove the tartar from the surface of the tooth root, and planing procedure will be performed to ensure that when the gums do heal, they can reattach to a smooth root surface. The bone is adjusted in an attempt to eliminate the defects caused by periodontitis and restore a more physiologic structure.

The gum is then sutured with tiny stitches that are left in place for 1-2 weeks.

Though the gums and teeth may be more sensitive immediately following the procedure, this is usually temporary. There will be a significant reduction in pocket depth and a vast improvement in the condition of the teeth and gums.

If you have any questions about pocket reduction surgery or treatment for periodontal disease, please set up a examination visit with Dr. Ramirez.


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