What are gum or periodontal pockets?
If you’ve been noticing that you have swollen gums and dental plaque buildup, that can be a sign you may have periodontal or gum pockets. What are gum pockets? What are periodontal pockets? How do they affect you and how are they treated? Take a closer look at gum and periodontal pockets with this article from CDH.
The inside skinny on gum and periodontal pockets
- A gum pocket is a gap between your gum and a tooth, which leads to inflammation. Gum pockets are caused by dental plaque,
- Periodontal pockets are deeper than gum pockets and can cause gum disease,
- If you have mild gingivitis, better tooth care can clear it up fast,
- But if you have periodontitis, you’ll need professional dental care,
- No matter what, it’s important to schedule an appointment with a dental hygienist to figure out what’s going on and set up a treatment plan. Treatments can range from a dental cleaning to surgery.
What are gum pockets?
Gum pockets, more formally known as pseudopockets, are spaces that form between your teeth and gums, causing gum swelling or gingivitis.
These spaces are formed by dental plaque buildup along your gum line and under your gums. Gum pockets don’t cause bone loss.
What are periodontal pockets?
Periodontal pockets are deeper than gum pockets. They extend down to your bone.
They are caused by the destruction of the tissue that supports your teeth, including bone. The sulcus, the potential space between your tooth and gum, should be shallow when measured with a dental probe. The sulcus will be deeper if you have a pocket caused by gum disease.
What kind of damage do gum and periodontal pockets cause?
Gum and periodontal pockets are both symptoms of gum disease. The pockets themselves are painless, but they can cause noticeable symptoms:
- Gum inflammation,
- Bleeding when you brush or during dental care,
- Bad breath due to micro-abscesses,
- Localized pain,
- Pus oozing from your gum,
- Changes in the appearance of your gums, which can become red, swollen, spongy, or recede,
- An unpleasant taste in parts of your mouth,
- Bone pain,
- Heat and cold sensitivity,
- Dental pain even with no cavities.
What treatments are available for gum and periodontal pockets?
The earlier they are identified, the more easily and more effectively we can treat them! Gum pockets are a potential symptom of gingivitis. But it’s important to treat them fast, before they turn into periodontitis. The treatment is fairly simple: excellent dental hygiene including brushing 3 times a day, flossing, and an appointment with a dental hygienist.
Periodontal pockets are more difficult to treat since you have to reduce their depth to the normal groove between your gums and teeth. The exact methods depend on how serious the situation is and how far it has progressed toward full-blown periodontitis. The methods that can be used are:
- Scaling and root planing: this is an extra deep cleaning to remove tartar and the rough surfaces that tartar can cling to,
- Flap surgery: if the inflammation persists, a periodontist will perform flap surgery to clean out the tartar and periodontal pockets before suturing the pockets so your gum will adhere to your teeth,
- Graft: if you have severe periodontitis that has destroyed your gum tissue and bone, you may need grafts,
- Doxycycline gel: this antibiotic gel is used for gum disease,
- Chlorhexidine tablets: long-release tablets of this antibacterial product can be implanted in your gum tissue,
- Microspheres of minocycline: after cleaning out the pockets, your periodontist may insert microspheres containing antibiotics in your tissue,
- Doxycycline pills: your periodontist may recommend doxycycline in addition to deep cleaning and planing.