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I was told by my dentist that I have deep pockets – what do I do?

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When it comes to maintaining a healthy smile, knowledge is power. Have you recently been told by your dentist that you have deep pockets? Don’t panic! This blog post will shed light on what deep pockets mean in dental terms and discuss the various treatment options available to you. We’ll also highlight the significance of regular maintenance appointments with our Oral Health Therapist to ensure optimal oral health and prevent future complications. At True Smiles Dental, your trusted Marrickville Dentist, we are committed to providing you with the information you need to make informed decisions about your dental care.

What Are Deep Pockets?

Deep pockets, also known as periodontal pockets, are a common indicator of gum disease or periodontitis. They refer to the spaces that form between the gums and teeth when the gum tissue becomes inflamed and starts to pull away from the tooth surface. These pockets provide a breeding ground for bacteria, plaque, and tartar accumulation, which can lead to further gum and bone damage if left untreated.

Why have they come about?

When plaque builds up along the gum line, it triggers inflammation in the gums and bones, resulting in the formation of pockets. However, the severity of damage caused by these pockets can be influenced by various factors. Medical conditions such as autoimmune disorders, pregnancy, Type 2 diabetes, and smoking can lower your immune system’s threshold, causing heightened gum inflammation and an increased likelihood of pocket formation. While genetics play a role, making healthy choices and prioritising oral health can positively impact gum health. Maintaining effective oral home care, attending regular dental examinations, receiving professional teeth cleanings, and adopting a healthy lifestyle can help prevent deep pockets and ensure the maintenance of healthy gums.

The Importance of Early Intervention

If you’ve been diagnosed with deep pockets, it’s crucial to take immediate action. Leaving the condition untreated can result in serious consequences, such as tooth loss and overall deterioration of oral health. Deep pockets are typically accompanied by symptoms like gum sensitivity, bleeding gums, bad breath, and even tooth mobility. Ignoring these signs can allow the disease to progress, making treatment more complex and costly.

Treatment Options for Deep Pockets

Fortunately, various treatment options are available to address deep pockets and manage gum disease effectively. Your dental profession at True Smiles Dental will evaluate your condition and recommend the most appropriate course of action, which may include:

Professional Teeth Cleaning

When it comes to deep pockets and gum disease treatment, it’s essential to understand the difference between scaling and root planing and a regular scale and clean. While both procedures involve cleaning the teeth, they serve different purposes and target different areas of the mouth.

A regular scale and clean, focuses on removing plaque and tartar from the visible surfaces of the teeth. During this procedure, your dental professional will use special instruments to carefully remove the buildup of plaque and tartar, leaving your teeth feeling clean and polished. A regular scale and clean is typically recommended for patients with healthy gums and is an important part of routine dental care to maintain optimal oral hygiene.

On the other hand, scaling and root planing or gum disease treatment is a more in-depth procedure specifically designed to address deep pockets and gum disease. This treatment targets the areas below the gumline, where plaque and tartar have accumulated and caused inflammation. Scaling involves the removal of plaque, tartar, and bacteria from both the surfaces of the teeth and the pocket depths within the gums. This process is usually performed under local anesthesia to ensure your comfort. It also aims to eliminate any rough areas or bacterial deposits that may contribute to ongoing gum inflammation and the progression of gum disease. By smoothing the root surfaces, the gums can better reattach to the teeth, reducing pocket depths and preventing further bacterial accumulation.

Unlike a regular scale and clean, scaling and root planing may require multiple visits to complete, depending on the extent of the gum disease and the number of areas requiring treatment. It is a thorough and effective procedure that allows for the removal of bacteria, plaque, and tartar from deep pockets, promoting gum healing and preventing the progression of gum disease.
If you have been diagnosed with deep pockets, your dental professional will evaluate your condition and determine whether scaling and root planing is necessary. They will also provide you with detailed instructions on post-treatment care and oral hygiene practices to promote optimal healing and maintain the health of your gums.

Gum Surgery

In more severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary. Procedures like gum flap surgery or pocket reduction surgery can be performed to eliminate deep pockets and restore gum health. These surgical techniques involve accessing the infected area, thoroughly cleaning it, and repositioning the gum tissue to minimize pocket depth.

Antibiotic Therapy
In majority of the cases, the prescription of antibiotics is not commonly practised as routinely in the gum disease treatment phase. This is because the majority of the antibiotics does not have the ability to penetrate within the framework of the plaque and cause enough disruption to significantly improve gum health. The physical removal of the plaque and calculus is what will significantly encourage improved healing. In some rare instances, despite achieving meticulous professional gum disease treatment, controlling medical conditions and oral hygiene home care, there is some evidence to show a prescription of Azithromycin may help in clearing residual bacteria strains within the pockets. However this is only performed in specific instances as judged by the dental profession and is considered as an adjunctive.

The Role of Maintenance Appointments with an Oral Health Therapist:
Once your deep pockets have been treated, it’s crucial to establish a proactive approach to oral health care. Regular maintenance appointments with an Oral Health Therapist play a vital role in preventing the recurrence of gum disease and maintaining the overall health of your gums and teeth. These appointments typically occur every three months and involve the following essential components:

    • Professional Teeth Cleaning
      During each maintenance appointment, your Oral Health Therapist will perform a hygiene examination which includes, professional teeth cleaning, removing any plaque, tartar, or stain buildup that may have occurred since your last visit. This cleaning goes beyond what you can achieve with regular brushing and flossing, ensuring a healthier smile.
    • Thorough Examination
      Your Oral Health Therapist will conduct a comprehensive examination of your gums, teeth, oral tissues, plaque disclosing that reveals the location and duration of plaque around the teeth and gums. and reviewing the healing and response to the gum disease treatment. Early detection is key to preventing complications and receiving timely treatment if necessary.
    • Personalised Oral Hygiene Instruction
      Your Oral Health Therapist will provide personalised guidance on the most effective brushing and flossing techniques, as well as recommend any additional oral hygiene aids or products that may benefit your specific oral health needs. They will address any concerns or questions you may have regarding your oral hygiene routine, ensuring you have the knowledge and tools to maintain a healthy smile between visits.
    • Monitoring of Gum Health
      Regular maintenance appointments allow your oral health therapist to monitor the health of your gums closely. They will measure and assess pocket depths, check for any signs of inflammation or bleeding, and evaluate the overall condition of your gum tissue. This monitoring helps identify any changes or potential issues early on, enabling prompt intervention if required.

The Benefits of Regular Maintenance Appointments:
Maintaining a consistent schedule of maintenance appointments with your Oral Health Therapist offers several key advantages for your oral health:

  • Prevention of Recurrence:
    By addressing deep pockets and managing gum disease through regular maintenance appointments, you significantly reduce the risk of the condition returning or progressing. This proactive approach helps safeguard your oral health and minimize the need for more invasive treatments in the future.
  • Early Detection of Oral Health Issues:
    Regular check-ups allow your oral health therapist to identify any oral health issues at their earliest stages. Whether it’s gum disease, tooth decay, or other concerns, early detection means early intervention, which can prevent further damage and save you from unnecessary discomfort and expenses.
  • Customised Care:
    Each maintenance appointment is tailored to your specific needs. Your oral health therapist will consider your oral health history, lifestyle factors, and any ongoing concerns to provide personalized care and guidance. This individualized approach ensures that you receive the most effective treatment and preventive measures for your oral health.
  • Improved Overall Health:
    Maintaining optimal oral health has a positive impact on your overall well-being. Gum disease has been linked to various systemic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory issues. By prioritizing regular maintenance appointments, you contribute to your overall health and reduce the risk of these potential complications.

If you’ve been told you have deep pockets, there’s no need to panic. With the right treatment and ongoing care, you can regain control of your oral health and maintain a beautiful smile. True Smiles Dental, your trusted Marrickville Dentist, is here to provide you with comprehensive treatment options and guide you through regular maintenance appointments with an oral health therapist. By embracing these proactive measures, you can prevent the progression of gum disease, ensure long-term oral health, and enjoy the confidence that comes with a healthy smile. Don’t wait—schedule your next maintenance appointment today and take the first step towards a brighter, healthier future.