Osseous surgery, also known as pocket depth reduction, is a relatively new method of treating periodontal disease. Patients with gum disease often develop pockets in the bone around the teeth. These holes can eventually cause teeth to loosen and fall out or to require surgical extraction. Osseous surgery is designed to get rid of the deep pockets in order to preserve the affected teeth and maintain oral health.
In order to prevent further development of periodontal disease, it is essential that patients continue to be scrupulous about maintaining oral hygiene methods and to have regular dental and periodontal visits if they want to retain their natural teeth and attractive smile.
Reasons for Osseous Surgery
When periodontal disease develops, tissue and bone that normally support the teeth recede and wear away, forming pockets around the teeth. As the disease advances, the pockets deepen, creating more and more space for bacteria to grow. As the bacteria thrive, they invade the area beneath the gums, resulting in even further tissue and bone loss. Unless this process is interrupted, eventually too much bone will be lost to support the teeth and the teeth will be permanently lost. Osseous surgery is, therefore, a method of preserving natural teeth.
The Osseous Surgery Procedure
This procedure reshapes the damaged bone so it will once again hold the teeth in place and prevent them from falling out. During osseous surgery, a periodontist numbs the target area with a local anesthetic, and then cuts into the gum, folding it back to remove bacteria from the pockets, and to access the underlying bone. The bone is then reshaped as needed using a drill and other surgical dental tools. Depending on need, some bone may be removed, or some may be grafted on. The gum tissue is then placed back over the bone and sutured in place.
The damaged bone is smoothed, both to make it more supportive to adjacent teeth and to remove crevices in which infection-producing bacteria can hide. This ensures that, as the gum heals, it reattaches to healthy, uninfected bone.
Recovery from Osseous Surgery
After osseous surgery, patients typically experience mild swelling and pain, both of which can be managed by applying ice and taking pain or anti-inflammatory medication as needed. A follow-up visit will be necessary after 7 to 10 days, at which point the sutures are removed, and the patient's healing process is professionally evaluated. No general benefit has been found to prophylactically administering antibiotics to all patients prior to osseous surgery, though in some cases this may be deemed necessary.
- Medline Plus
- National Institutes of Health
- National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
- U.S. National Library of Medicine