Pocket Surgery

Pocket surgery, or pocket reduction surgery, refers to a number of different periodontal treatment techniques aimed at thoroughly cleaning a tooth or group of teeth both above and below the gum line.


Pocket surgery is used to gain access for complete removal of roughness caused by plaque and calculus on roots to facilitate a reduction in the depth of pockets around teeth. It is commonly used for effective treatment of moderate to advanced periodontal diseases. During this treatment the teeth and gum is “frozen” using local dental anesthetic and the procedure is reported to feel more like a thorough cleaning. The specific goals of surgery include:

  • Reducing Bacterial Spread:
    Bacteria from the mouth can spread throughout the body and cause other life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and respiratory disease. Removing deep tartar and thereby bacteria can help reduce the risk of bacteria spreading.
  • Preventing Bone Loss:
    The immune system’s inflammatory response prompted by periodontal bacteria can lead to bone loss in the jaw region, and cause teeth to fall out. Pocket surgery seeks to stop periodontal disease before it progresses to this level.
  • Enhancing the Smile:
    Mouths plagued with periodontal disease are often unsightly. Brown gums, rotting teeth, and ridge indentations can leave a person feeling depressed and too self-conscious to smile. Fortunately, periodontal therapy can help reduce bacteria and disease and thereby restore your mouth to its former radiance, while restoring confidence at the same time.
  • Facilitating Home Care:
    As the gum pocket deepens, it can become nearly impossible to brush and floss adequately. Pocket surgery reduces pocket size, making it easier to brush and floss, and thereby prevent further periodontal disease.


First, local anesthetic will be used to numb the area prior to surgery. Then, the doctor will gently release the gum tissue from the teeth allowing access to the pocket and diseased roots . After the roots have been thoroughly cleaned through scaling, a drill and hand tools will be used to smooth the damaged bone around the teeth to restore its normal healthy shape at a lower level.  Bone grafting can also be carried out at the same time if needed to fill in large defects.

Next, the gums will be placed back over the sides of the teeth and sutured securely in place. The treatment site will also be covered with a bandage (periodontal pack) or dressing. Pain medicine and mouth rinses containing chlorhexidine are generally prescribed following treatment.

Finally, the doctor and assistant will review the treatment with you and provide the prescriptions you will use during the first few days of healing. They will go over various home care considerations which can help ensure your recovery proceeds uneventfully. More information is available under the section on post- operative care.

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