Severe gum disease, or periodontitis, is typically accompanied by a number of unpleasant side effects, but few have such long-lasting ramifications as bone loss. The bone in your jaw is directly connected to your teeth, anchoring them in place and providing access to nutrient- and oxygen-carrying blood vessels. But when a tooth has been affected by gum disease, a pocket of harmful bacteria begins to form below the gum line. This pocket extends downward until it reaches your bone, at which point the bacteria will begin to gnaw away at your jaw, potentially leading to severe and permanent bone loss. There is, however, a treatment for this condition called pocket reduction surgery, and it may help save your jawline.
Assessing the Extent of the Damage
As part of your initial exam, your periodontist should thoroughly examine and image your mouth through x-rays to get a better understanding of how deep your pockets have already stretched. In cases where the damage is minimal, you should be able to correct the problem through basic at-home hygiene measures like brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash. If the pockets extend too far, on the other hand, you will likely need surgical intervention to close the pockets and flush the bacteria in order to save your tooth and bone.
Undergoing Pocket Reduction Surgery
Pocket reduction surgery is a relatively simple procedure. During the operation, your periodontist will peel back the gums surrounding each affected tooth, revealing the pocket of bacteria below. This pocket is then flushed clean and sanitized. If the bone is exposed, it may also be treated to eliminate any bacteria hiding inside its pores. Once the area is no longer full of infected tissue and pus, the gums can be returned to their normal position to heal. There are often some sutures involved, and you may be prescribed antibiotics to help wipe out any lingering bacterial colonies as you recover.
Encouraging Your Gums to Reconnect With Your Bone
After the infection has been destroyed, it is up to you to ensure that your gums are healthy and well taken care of in the future. By following proper hygiene standards and visiting your periodontist regularly, you can encourage your gums to reattach themselves to your jaw bone, restoring their function as intended and strengthening your bone in the process.
If you suspect that your gum disease has progressed to a more serious stage, get in to see a periodontist, like one at Cumberland Periodontal Associate, and begin correcting the problem before it is too late to save your smile.