Your gum tissue is meant to adhere closely to your teeth. If you develop gum disease and it is left untreated for some time, this can cause pockets to form between your teeth and your gums. It's very difficult to heal gum disease once pockets form since bacteria get trapped within the pockets. However, your dentist can perform a procedure known as pocket reduction surgery to get rid of the pockets and start you down the path towards recovery. Here are some questions you might have if your dentist has recommended this procedure.

Why do you have to see a specialist?

Your dentist will probably send you to a periodontal specialist for this procedure. While general dentist do some work with periodontal treatment, they are not always as skilled in complex procedures like pocket reduction surgery. Periodontal surgeons have received specialized training to perform this procedure, so they will be able to get better results and also perform the procedure more quickly, so you don't have to spend as long in the dental chair.

Will the procedure hurt?

Pocket reduction surgery is usually performed with you awake. However, your dentist will administer an injection of local anesthesia to numb your gums, so you won't feel any pain during the procedure. Your mouth will feel just as it does before you have a cavity filled -- completely numb. As the anesthetic wears off after the procedure, you will be a bit sore. However, you can easily manage the pain by rinsing your mouth with salt water, taking over-the-counter pain relievers, and holding ice packs against the outside of your mouth. The pain should subside within a few days. Overall, pocket reduction surgery is not an overly painful procedure to recover from.

What will your dentist do during the procedure?

Once your mouth is numb, your dentist will use a scalpel to cut away some of the excess gum tissue. Then, your dentist will clean the portion of the tooth root that is exposed. This process removes oral bacteria from within the pocket so that after the surgery is complete, you have an easier time healing from gum disease. After the teeth are clean, the remaining tissue will be pulled tightly against your teeth, and then sutures will be put into place to hold the gums firmly against your teeth. 

Will dental insurance cover pocket reduction surgery?

Since pocket reduction surgery is not a cosmetic procedure and is often necessary to clear up periodontal disease, it is often covered by dental insurance. Some plans may cover the entire cost of the procedure, while others may only cover a portion of it. Note that your insurance may require your dentist to perform the procedure on one quadrant of the mouth at a time. This approach helps make the recovery process smoother and may allow your gums to heal more quickly, too.

What are the risks of pocket reduction surgery?

As with all surgeries, there is a risk of infection after the procedure. You can reduce this risk by keeping the surgical sites clean. Your dentist will probably give you a syringe and instruct you to use it to clean the area with salt water or a special antibacterial rinse. In some cases, you may be prescribed antibiotics to take for about a week post-treatment. Make sure you take all of the medication, even if your gums seem to be healing just fine. 

If your dentist has recommended pocket reduction surgery, then you can proceed with this procedure with the confidence that it will benefit your gum health overall. It's never wise to leave periodontal disease untreated as it can lead to loose and missing teeth. By undergoing this procedure, you are being proactive and responsible. For more information or assistance, contact a specialist like Piotrowski  Bradley T DDS MS d LLC.