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Traditionally, gum disease has been treated by trimming away infected gum tissue and re-contouring the uneven bone tissue. Although this is still an effective way of treating gum disease, new and more sophisticated procedures are used routinely today, such as osseous surgery, or pocket reduction.
Healthy bone and gum tissue fit snugly around the teeth. When you have periodontal disease, this supporting tissue and bone is destroyed, forming "pockets" around the teeth.
Over time, these pockets deepen, providing a larger and larger space for bacteria to live and grow. As bacteria develop around the teeth, they can accumulate and advance beneath the gum tissue. These deep pockets collect even more bacteria, resulting in further bone and tissue loss. Eventually, if too much bone is lost, there will not be enough support for the teeth, and they will need to be extracted.
During this procedure, your gum tissue is folded back, so that disease-causing bacteria may be removed from the pockets, and then the tissue is secured back into place. In some cases, irregular surfaces of damaged bone are smoothed to limit places in which disease-causing bacteria can hide. This way, the gum tissue is allowed to to better reattach to healthier, bacteria-free bone.
Reducing pocket depth and eliminating existing bacteria are important to stop the decaying process and to prevent further damage caused by the progression of periodontal disease and, of course, to help you maintain a healthy smile. Osseous surgery is often the first step in fighting periodontal disease. It is important to note, however, that eliminating bacteria alone may not be sufficient to prevent disease recurrence. When pockets become very deep, they are more difficult for you and your dental care professional to clean, so it's important for you to maintain good oral hygiene after the procedure. A combination of reduced pocket depth, daily oral hygiene and professional periodontal maintenance increases your chances of keeping your natural teeth and decreases the chance of serious health problems associated with periodontal disease.