Infected gums represent a very common form of gum disease known as periodontitis. Bacterial plaque in our mouth can accumulate in hard to clean areas along the gum line and between the teeth, causing inflammation and damage to the gum tissue. The periodontium are the supporting structures of the tooth, and should consist of gum tissue and bone that fits snugly around the teeth, with a depth of only 2-3mm. When bacteria start forming around the teeth, they can extend to the gum tissues and bones as well, destroying them completely and forming “pockets” around the teeth. Gradually, these pockets become deeper, providing a larger space for the bacteria to live. This results in further bone and tissue loss. In such a scenario, osseous surgery or pocket reduction surgery becomes necessary to remove the infecting bacteria and reduce the depth of these pockets.
Osseous surgery or a pocket reduction procedure is appropriate for periodontal defects that have lead to shallow ditched-out pockets in the bone and gum tissue, as a result periodontal disease. The surgery is typically accomplished by using local anesthesia to numb the area. Next, excess tissue is reduced and the underlying bone is reshaped through surgery, thereby, reducing pocket depth. The affected sites are typically closed with dissolvable stitches and non-medicated putty material is placed over the surgical site.
There is another procedure for pocket reduction surgery where the gum tissue is folded back, removing disease-causing bacteria before securing the tissue back in place again. In certain cases, the irregular surfaces of the damaged bone are finely smoothened to reduce the depth of the pockets and limit the space where harmful bacteria can reside and cause infection. This surgical procedure further helps the gum tissue to reattach to the healthy bone underlying the teeth. Deeper pockets may be more difficult to clean and hence, advanced surgical procedures are used in removing disease-causing bacteria as much as possible.
To prevent further progression of pocket depth caused by periodontal disease, it is important to implement a combination of osseous surgery and good oral and dental hygiene regularly. With advanced surgical procedures available today, the treatment can be accomplished relatively comfortably. Improvement in local anesthesia, medications, pain and anxiety control are also available to make the procedure more comfortable and stress-free. Post surgery, it is important to follow your dentist’s instructions thoroughly to let your teeth and gums heal completely. You can expect a normal routine the following day, post surgery. Your dentist will advise whether any further precautions might be necessary in your case.