Scaling and root planing is often the first step in periodontal treatment. In many cases, however, additional steps are needed to gain access to completely remove tartar and bacteria, shrink the pocket, and re-establish tooth support.


Pocket reduction involves reshaping deformities and removing pockets in the tissue and alveolar bone surrounding the teeth.  An important goal of pocket reduction is to reduce the periodontal pockets that harbor periodontal disease. Pocket reduction feels like a localized, thorough cleaning. The specific goals of pocket reduction include:

  • Preventing bone loss: Periodontal bacteria prompts an overactive immune response, leading to inflammation, bone loss, and causing teeth to fall out. Pocket reduction aims to stop periodontal disease before it progresses to this level
  • Enhancing the smile: Mouths plagued with periodontal disease are often unsightly. Fortunately, pocket reduction helps reduce bacteria and disease, restoring your mouth’s radiance and your confidence.
  • Preparing for cosmetic dentistry: Periodontal stability is needed for a solid foundation prior to additional prosthetic and restorative work
  • Facilitating home care: As the gum pocket deepens, it can become difficult brush and floss adequately. Reducing pocket depth makes brushing and flossing more effective, helping prevent further breakdown
  • Reducing bacterial spread: Bacteria from the mouth can spread throughout the body. Removing the periodontal bacterial load could lessen the amount that gains access to the bloodstream

What does the procedure entail?

A local anesthetic will be used to numb the area to ensure your comfort. First, the gums are gently pushed back to gain access to the teeth and supporting bone. The teeth are thoroughly cleaned with scaling and root planing.  As needed, the bone is reshaped to  promote pocket reduction. Bone grafting may also be used to regenerate tooth support. Finally, the gums will be replaced and secured with a few sutures.  Patients experience minimal to no discomfort which can be soothed with ibuprofen or acetominophen. Patients may return to work and normal activities after the procedure.