UncategorizedWhat is a gum pocket? - Al-Fa Perio Clinic

Red, swollen and bleeding gums. Pain when brushing and flossing. Bad breath and an unpleasant taste in the mouth.

These are all classic signs of periodontal (gum) disease, and most adults in the UK will have experienced it at one point or another.

Gum pockets are another undeniable sign of periodontal disease, but what exactly are they?

In this article, our expert periodontists at Al-FaPerio Clinic reveal all you need to know about gum pockets, and why you should never ignore them.

What is a gum pocket?

Put simply, a gum pocket is the space that forms between the gum and tooth. 

As the pocket deepens, this space becomes larger and can extend all the way down to the root of the tooth.

Not all gum pockets are immediately considered harmful, and in their early stages, can be completely reversed with good oral hygiene and therapies like laser gum treatment.

What is a gum pocket? - Al-Fa Perio Clinic

What is a 4mm periodontal pocket?

Periodontal pockets are measured in millimetres, and the bigger they are, the more severe they are.

A 4mm periodontal pocket typically indicates early or mild gum disease – which is referred to as gingivitis.

The more you allow plaque to build up on your teeth, and the longer you put off seeking treatment, the bigger the pocket will grow.

And with bigger periodontal pockets comes a host of health complications.


Why is an 8mm gum pocket significant?

Pockets that measure between 7-12mm indicate advanced gum disease and are much harder to treat than smaller pockets.

Whilst gum pockets of this size may not be fully reversible, significant improvement is achievable if they’re caught early and treated correctly with procedures such as:

  • Professional cleaning
  • Scaling and root planing
  • Pocket reduction (flap) surgery
What is a gum pocket? - Al-Fa Perio Clinic

What happens with a 10mm periodontal pocket?

In extreme cases, periodontal pockets can reach 10mm or deeper, and at this point, will likely need to be treated with surgical treatments, like gum grafting, laser gum surgery or flap surgery.

Although these treatments may sound daunting, we can assure you that they’re nothing to worry about, and they give you the best chance of restoring your oral health, eliminating the risk of infections and reducing gum disease.

Who is at risk of developing gum pockets?

If you don’t keep up with oral hygiene – which includes brushing and flossing twice a day and attending regular dental appointments – your risk of developing gum pockets increases significantly. This can be especially true for those who eat a diet that’s rich in sugar, as sugary foods and beverages can accelerate decay and gingivitis.

Other risk factors can include:

  • Ageing
  • Stress
  • Smoking cigarettes, vaping or chewing tobacco
  • Taking medications that cause dry mouth
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Genetics
  • And more

If you’re at an increased risk of developing periodontal pockets, it’s vital that you attend regular dental appointments to ensure your oral health stays in tip-top condition.

What is a gum pocket? - Al-Fa Perio Clinic

Gum pocket infection

Of course, having a gum pocket infection is never good news, but when detected early and with the right treatment, it can be successfully treated.

But how can you be sure if a gum pocket infection is the problem?

Typically, patients with gum pocket infections notice:

  • Swollen or puffy gums
  • Bright red, dark red or dark purple gums
  • Tender gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Blood when brushing and/or flossing
  • Persistent bad breath
  • New spaces that have developed between the teeth that resemble black triangles

If you notice any of these symptoms, book an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible, so that they can offer an official diagnosis, begin treatment and get your oral health back on the right track.

To diagnose periodontal pockets, your dentist will measure the space between your teeth with a periodontal probe to determine the depth and size of the pocket.

Generally, any periodontal pocket that measures between 5 to 10mm will require treatment, with those over 5mm needing more intense intervention.

Cleaning gum pockets

Small pockets can usually be cleaned and reduced in size with professional cleaning treatments and a sufficient at-home oral hygiene routine – which involves brushing and flossing twice a day and using an antibacterial mouthwash.

For slightly larger pockets your dentist may perform a scaling and root planing procedure – which is usually done with a laser, ultrasonic device or handheld instruments like curettes and scalers – to remove bacteria, plaque and tar tar from around the teeth. Your dentist may also apply an antibacterial gel to eliminate bacteria inside the gum pocket and reduce inflammation.

If your gum pockets are severe, or you have bone loss but the tooth can still be saved, your dentist will recommend pocked reduction, or flap surgery – separating the gum from the tooth and later reattaching it in a new position.

What is a gum pocket? - Al-Fa Perio Clinic

Need expert help and advice?

If you’re suffering from symptoms of gum disease, don’t suffer alone.

Here at Al-FaPerio Clinic, we’ve helped treat and reverse gum disease for countless patients, and the sooner you book an appointment with us, the better your chances of a full recovery.

Give us a call today on 020 8506 0701 or book your consultation using our handy online booking system, and we’ll look forward to seeing you at our Essex-based practice.