Almost half of all Americans suffer from gum disease in one form or another. Sometimes pocket reduction surgery is the only way to combat it.
Here's how pocket reduction surgery works and what to expect.
What is Pocket Reduction Surgery?
Pocket reduction surgery is a gum disease treatment that involves cutting open your gums to remove plaque and tartar buildup that is inaccessible with non-invasive procedures. This buildup causes your gum pockets to become deeper and nearly impossible to reach and properly clean.
Pocket reduction surgery, sometimes called flap surgery, is used when periodontal disease has been able to advance to a more serious stage. It may be the only option when scaling and root planing aren't able to resolve bacteria that's causing gum disease.
Pocket reduction surgery is needed to open up your gum pockets, allowing your dentist to clean deep down between your teeth and gums.
What Does Pocket Reduction Surgery Involve?
Pocket reduction surgery can seem scary. However, it’s often the only way to prevent losing your teeth to gum disease.
There are four main stages to pocket reduction surgery:
A local anesthetic is administered to reduce any pain you might feel during the procedure.
Incisions are made to allow your doctor to pull back the gums and reveal plaque and tartar buildup.
Then, your dentist removes all of the plaque and tartar buildup, which stops gum disease from advancing to an irreversible level.
Your gums are stitched back to your teeth, reducing the size of your pocket and allowing them to grow in a healthy environment. Sometimes, a solution is applied between your gums and teeth to promote reattachment.
How Long Does it Take to Recover From Pocket Reduction Surgery?
Most people recover from flap reduction surgery in two to four weeks. You should stay away from solid food for at least 10 to 14 days to avoid infection and the incisions reopening.
You can take over-the-counter pain medicines during this time to dull the discomfort. However, you should stay away from medicines containing acetylsalicylic acid (like Aspirin). This will thin your blood and cause your incisions to bleed. Instead, take medicine that uses acetaminophen such as Tylenol.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums. It causes inflammation and gum tenderness, among other things. It is caused by failing to properly clean your teeth and gum line.
There are many stages of gum disease, and early detection is key. If left untreated, the infection will progress and deteriorate your teeth. Eventually, it will eat away the bones that support your teeth and cause them to fall out.
What is a Gum Pocket?
A gum pocket is a gap between your gum and tooth.
Healthy teeth and gums have little to no pockets between them. However, the gum pocket can grow larger when plaque builds up between the teeth and gums.
A regular dental exam includes taking a look at your gum pocket depth. Dentists use a special tool to measure this depth — if your gum pockets aren't in a healthy range, it's likely you have early-stage gum disease, and treatment is needed to clean out your gum pockets.
When your gum pockets reach an unhealthy depth, it's not possible to clean out all of the plaque with regular brushing and flossing.
What is the Purpose of Pocket Reduction Surgery?
The purpose of pocket reduction surgery is to remove harmful bacteria from beneath your gums and reduce pocket depth. After the surgery, plaque won’t be able to get trapped as deep in your gum pockets, making traditional cleaning much more effective.
A toothbrush cannot reach food particles trapped in deep pockets.
Does Pocket Reduction Surgery Hurt?
Pocket reduction surgery shouldn’t hurt during the procedure. We want the process to be as comfortable as possible, so a local anesthetic will be administered to the necessary areas.
Once the anesthetic wears off, you will experience tenderness and your gums will be sore for two to four weeks. As mentioned above, you'll also need to stick to soft foods for a few weeks post-surgery.
How Much Does Pocket Reduction Surgery Cost?
Depending on the size of the infected area, pocket reduction surgery can cost anywhere from about $1,000 to $4,000 before insurance.
Fortunately, most insurance companies see pocket reduction surgery as a necessary procedure and will generally cover around 50% of the costs associated with it.
However, check with your insurance provider first so there aren’t any surprises when you get billed.
Pocket Reduction Surgery in Fremont, CA
Seeking treatment for periodontal disease as early as possible is vital to keeping it at bay. If you've tried other gum disease treatments and they still haven't gotten rid of all of your plaque, you may need pocket reduction surgery.
Not everyone with gum disease will need pocket reduction surgery, but it will help save the teeth of those that do. Schedule an appointment with our Fremont, CA dentist today!