So your dentist informed you that not only do you have gingivitis, but also gum pockets so deep that you need a deep dental cleaning treatment. Whatever that is, it sounds uncomfortable. When you look at your gums in the mirror, you are trying to figure out what gum pockets are, and if you can even see them. To make it easier to understand, your dentist points out your pockets, both with and without the assistance of your dental x-rays.
Deep Gum Pockets
If your dentist says you have deep gum pockets, he does not mean you have oral cavities where you pocket wads of pre-chewed food. What he does mean is that your plaque bacteria has moved deep into your gum tissue and has multiplied to the point that the tissue around the roots of your teeth has pulled away and created large open areas of space. These pockets, as they are called, are plaque bacteria's own little Petri dishes, where continued expansion of disease grows and festers until it develops into an infection, possibly accompanied by pus.
You can see gum pockets clearly on an x-ray of your teeth as dark, circular spots near the roots of your teeth. Without an x-ray, the pockets make your gums look a little puffier than they should be. If the gum disease is advanced enough, you can even push on your puffy gums and feel the gum pockets squish under the pressure of your finger.
Treating the Gum Pockets
Obviously, the first step in decreasing the amount of bacteria in these gum pockets is to reach in with small dental instruments, plane the roots and scale the bacteria away. For people who have really sensitive oral tissues, you are going to need a numbing agent. Most patients who have to have a deep gum cleaning do report that it hurts, so ask for the numbing agent ahead of time. If you do not want your entire mouth frozen with Novocaine, ask your dentist for a topical anesthetic instead. It will be enough to get you past the cleaning and clearing out of each deep gum pocket you have and leave you with the ability to talk, eat and drink normally after your appointment.
After the Procedure
Bleeding of the gums is completely normal. Your dentist will prescribe an oral antiseptic rinse which you will have to use consistently and probably for the remainder of your life if you want to shrink the gum pockets and keep your teeth. The rinse will also significantly decrease any risks for infection and the development of pus in your gum pockets, which in turn stops additional visits to your dentist for root canals. You will need to adopt a more serious oral hygiene regimen as well such that you are able to avoid any more deep cleanings in your future.