During your dental appointment, you may have heard your
dentist or hygienist mention periodontal pockets, but do you really know what
Periodontal Pockets Defined
In a healthy mouth, the space between the gum and the tooth
(which is measured from the top of the gum, down to where the gum attaches to
the tooth) should only be 1-3 mm deep. Unfortunately, gum disease can create deeper spaces around the teeth,
and these are known as periodontal pockets.
Left untreated, tooth loss can occur.
The Formation of Periodontal
Plaque and tartar build up along the gumline. The bacteria in plaque causes gum inflammation
which breaks down the soft tissue that supports the tooth. As periodontal (gum) disease progresses, the
bacteria also breaks down the supporting bone tissue. This inflammation and bone loss causes a
pocket to form between the teeth and the gums, and the deeper space becomes the
perfect location for more plaque and tartar to hide out.
Periodontal Pockets and
While the main cause of periodontal disease is bacteria, a
patient’s susceptibility to this infection may be responsible for the level of
severity of bone loss. Evidence is
growing, that a person’s response to inflammation may be genetically
pre-determined. So as a result, there
are patients that may be more susceptible to a number of chronic diseases such
as arthritis, diabetes and periodontal diseases based on their individual
genetics. Our office offers genetic
testing as part of your personalized health care.
Treating Periodontal Pockets
The dentist or hygienist uses a periodontal probe to measure
and record the depth of the spaces around each tooth. If periodontal pockets are detected, the
first stage in treatment is often a non-surgical approach called root
Our specialty practice uses advanced ultrasonics to remove
established bacteria and inflamed tissue in a non-surgical approach to root
planing. This initial therapy will
decrease the inflammatory aspect of periodontitis but will not regenerate lost
tissue and bone. Other approaches using
lasers and locally applied antibiotics have been used but these other
adjunctive treatments have not been found to be more effective than thorough
root planning. It is important that
patients understand the most effective treatments for their condition that are also
minimally invasive. Ultrasonic root
planning allows for soft tissue healing with some reattachment to healthier
tooth root surfaces. In cases of more
severe bone loss, regeneration of soft tissue and bone may be possible with
some of the new technologies we employ.
Following the root planning procedure, our doctors will re-evaluate your
response and make further recommendations as needed.
Once periodontal treatment has been completed, it is
important to follow up with routine periodontal maintenance appointments. The periodontist will recommend how
frequently the maintenance appointment should occur.