Have you heard of gum disease? Then you should know what a “periodontal pocket” is. These gum “pockets” are the area of unattached tissue encircling each of your teeth, with the bottom of the pocket attaching further down the tooth and indicating the approximate bone levels that support your teeth. This attached gum tissue is very important, as it helps secure and stabilize your tooth, preventing bone loss from occurring.
Plaque and tartar can develop along and inside of the area of this periodontal pocket, causing tissue irritation and the spread of gum disease. When gum disease occurs, a healthy pocket that is only 1-3mm deep can detach from the tooth and become even deeper. Bacteria then spread further under the gums, jeopardizing the health of the tooth. Pockets that are 6-7mm deep or more can indicate moderate to severe bone loss, resulting in mobility or loss of the tooth that is affected.
Your dentist or hygienist will measure these pockets intermittently over the course of your dental care, to monitor their health. If a pocket bleeds or deepens, then it is a sign that active gum disease is present. Routine cleanings can remove bacteria deep within the pocket, but dedicated home care is also an important step in preventing pockets from becoming deeper. Brushing does not clean below the gums, so floss or water floss should be used.
Several deep pockets throughout your mouth may require the need to perform a deep cleaning and periodontal pocket elimination surgery. Thankfully, many areas of disease can be halted or reversed, saving your teeth from the number 1 cause of tooth loss.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Virginia Kirkland, North Point Periodontics
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