A closeup of healthy teeth and gum pockets.

The Dangers of Deep Gum Pockets

The area where the tooth meets the gum forms a pocket known as a gingival sulcus. In healthy patients, these gum pockets or spaces are about 1-3 mm each. When brushing or flossing, look in the mirror. You’ll notice how the floss or toothbrush bristles go inside this area and help clean it.

The tools that we use at home, our toothbrushes and floss, clean as deep as 1-3mm. Unfortunately, gum disease causes the pockets to become deeper. The tools we use at home to clean are no longer adequate. If we can’t clean these areas, then food, plaque, and bacteria begin to build up inside our pockets.

What Causes Deep Gum Pockets

There are two ways our gum pockets can get deeper. The first way involves the gum swelling from irritation, causing the gum pocket to become deeper and taller. Another way is due to bone loss around the teeth, at the base of the pocket. This makes the pocket grow deeper as well.

Gum swelling can be caused by plaque irritation, specific medications, and or hormone fluctuations. Bone loss around the teeth is caused by bacterial plaque buildup in gum pockets and our bodies’ reaction to these bacteria.

Reducing Pocket Depth

Deep and regular dental cleanings, with or without the use of antibiotic treatments, can aid in decreasing pocket depth by reducing swelling. However, deep cleanings and antibiotics cannot reduce pocket depth caused by bone loss. The only way to correct deep gum pockets caused by bone loss is through surgical correction.

One type of correction is traditional surgery, which cuts away the extra gum tissue and smooths the bone leaving you with healthy 1-3 mm gum pockets. The other is Laser Intervention or LANAP. This method shrinks the gum pocket by re-growing bone and re-sealing the gum pocket with a new attachment.

A picture of gum pockets after traditional surgery.

How traditional surgery leaves the gums.

Pictured left is the result of traditional gum surgery that cuts away the extra tissue. Note that when you chose traditional or “resective” treatment rather than LANAP’s “regenerative” treatment, the teeth will look taller than before. Also, spaces will develop between the teeth, and the gum line will be higher. This is all because traditional periodontal surgical treatments cut away tissue to make a healthy environment.

Here at Preserve Your Teeth®, we prefer to regenerate, restore, and rejuvenate your gums and teeth, not cut them away. This is why we offer the only FDA cleared Laser gum treatment for true regeneration in office; The LANAP Protocol.



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  • East Setauket, NY 11733
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