A periodontal pocket is an unusually deep gap in the space between the surrounding gums, called the gingival sulcus. When the sulcular depth exceeds 0.118 inch (3 mm), regular brushing cannot effectively remove debris from the area. At this point, dental intervention is necessary in order to thoroughly clean the area. If a deep gingival sulcus is not attended to, debris build-up could lead to a weakened tooth due to loosening of the attachment fibers that hold teeth in place.
If attachment fibers have not been weakened due to a deepened sulcus, the periodontal build-up is referred to as a gingival pocket. This pocket can be reversed by changing basic oral hygiene habits. If the attachment fibers have been damaged as a result of a deepened gingival pocket, then the area is referred to as a periodontal pocket.
These pockets are discovered during a dental examination, when the area is probed. Since the gums in a pocket are extremely sensitive, the slightest amount of probing will produce inflammation and bleeding. This condition must be attended to immediately in order to remove any bacteria that could cause an infection.
Removing debris and bacteria from this space requires a number of steps. Dental professionals first use scaling and debridement techniques to remove as much bacteria as possible. If removal of debris is not possible without surgery, a dental professional may opt to perform root planning, which involves removing the bacteria mechanically. This procedure often requires multiple dental visits, and patients may be given local anesthesia. On occasion, a patient's occlusion — the way the teeth fit together when closed — might also be adjusted. Following the successful removal of bacteria, patients must adhere to a strict dental cleaning routine.
Patients who have been treated for periodontal pockets are required to visit with a dental professional every three months to thoroughly clean the affected area and to ensure that the area does not become repopulated with bacteria. In addition, a regular brushing routine should be adjusted in order to prevent further problems.
If an effective dental regimen is not adopted, patients risk further infection and the development of more periodontal pockets, which will require additional probing, surgery, and cleaning. In order to prevent any kind of oral bacteria from forming, regular dental check-ups are recommended. In most cases, oral bacteria build-up can be avoided if it is noted in a timely manner.
There are some home remedies that will effectively remove some bacteria from the infected pocket areas, though these homeopathic solutions cannot remove calculus formations, rendering these solutions short-lived.