Periodontal Pocket Reduction Surgery

Periodontal disease is all too common, and our patients are often surprised to learn that affects half of all US adults over the age of 30. While there are several risk factors for gum disease, it is commonly the result of improper or inadequate brushing and flossing at home.

Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and typically easy to treat with a thorough cleaning and improved at-home oral hygiene. Without treatment, you can develop periodontitis, the most serious and destructive form of gum disease.

Dr. Levy specializes in periodontal care, and steps in when more conservative approaches aren’t sufficient to address the disease. If periodontitis advances too far, he may recommend periodontal pocket reduction surgery at our Washington, DC dental office.

What Are Periodontal Pockets?

A sticky biofilm called plaque forms consistently on your teeth, and you remove a lot of it when you brush and floss. Your dental hygienist then steps in with cleanings every six months to remove what you can’t reach.

Without adequate oral hygiene, however, bacteria-filled plaque advances under the gum tissue and opens spaces around your teeth. These are called periodontal pockets.

Healthy gums fit snugly around your teeth with pockets that are between 2-3 millimeters in depth. However, as gum disease progresses, the pockets deepen, giving bacteria more space to hide and leading to bone and tissue loss.

The first step is a non-surgical deep cleaning called scaling and root planing or SRP with Dr. Levy. SRP, along with more frequent maintenance cleanings, is often sufficient to get gum disease under control.

Periodontal Pocket Reduction Surgery

At a depth of 5 millimeters or greater, the gum pockets are too deep for you or your hygienist to keep clean, even with SRP. At this point, our Washington periodontist would recommend a periodontal pocket reduction procedure.

Please put to rest any anxious feelings you have about this procedure. First, understand that gum surgery is the only treatment available that can help prevent bone and tooth loss due to gum disease.

You can also be confident that you are in good hands with Dr. Levy, an experienced periodontist in Washington who helps save patients’ smiles every day. He and his team are also very caring and sensitive to your concerns and will spend a few minutes talking to you about what you can expect during your procedure. We can also prescribe a sedative for you to help you relax.

During pocket reduction, Dr. Levy carefully folds back the gum tissue so he can reach into the pocket to eliminate the disease-causing bacteria. He smooths the surfaces of damaged bone, minimizing spots where bacteria can hide and helping gum tissue reattach to the teeth.

In some cases, the damage to the bone is so significant that Dr. Levy would also perform bone grafting to help regenerate the supporting structures of the tooth.

At-Home Care after Gum Surgery

Patients commonly experience some soreness and swelling after gum surgery and manage discomfort with OTC anti-inflammatory medications like Advil. Dr. Levy will likely prescribe an antibiotic and antibacterial mouthwash, so be sure to take both as instructed. Plan to follow a soft diet, and quit smoking during this period as it has a serious, detrimental effect on healing.

Call Advanced Periodontics of Washington, DC

If you have recently been told you need gum surgery and want a second opinion, Dr. Levy will be happy to help you. You also don’t need a referral to a periodontist, and you can call us directly to schedule an appointment.