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  • Salinas, CA - 1112 Pajaro St. 93901
  • Hollister, California - 1710 Memorial Drive 95023
  • (831) 424-2214 | Salinas, CA - 1112 Pajaro St.
  • (831) 424-2214 | Hollister, California - 1710 Memorial Drive

Pocket Reduction Surgery

Pocket reduction surgery (also known as gingivectomy, osseous surgery and flap surgery) is a collective term for a series of several different surgeries aimed at gaining access to the roots of the teeth in order to remove bacteria and tartar (calculus).

The human mouth contains dozens of different bacteria at any given time.  The bacteria found in plaque (the sticky substance on teeth) produce acids that lead to demineralization of the tooth surface, and ultimately contribute to periodontal disease.

Periodontal infections cause a chronic inflammatory response in the body that literally destroys bone and gum tissues once they invade the subgingival area (below the gum line).  Gum pockets form and deepen between the gums and teeth as the tissue continues to be destroyed.

Periodontal disease is a progressive condition which, if left untreated, causes massive bacteria colonization in gum pockets and can eventually cause teeth to fall out.  Pocket reduction surgery is an attempt to alleviate this destructive cycle, and reduce the depth of the bacteria-harboring pockets.

Reasons for the pocket reduction surgery

Pocket reduction surgery is a common periodontal procedure which has been proven effective at eliminating bacteria, reducing inflammation and saving teeth.  The goals of pocket reduction surgery are:

  • Reducing bacterial spread – Oral bacteria has been connected to many other serious conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.  Oral bacteria can travel to various parts of the body from inside the bloodstream and begin to colonize.  It is important to decrease bacteria in the mouth in order to reduce the risk of secondary infection.

  • Halting bone loss – The chronic inflammatory response induced by oral bacteria leads the body to destroy bone tissue.  As the jawbone becomes affected by periodontal disease, the teeth lose their rigid anchor.  When the teeth become too loose, they may require extraction.

  • Facilitate home care – As the gum pockets become progressively deeper, they become incredibly difficult for the patient to clean.  The toothbrush and dental floss cannot reach the bottom of the pockets, increasing the risk of further periodontal infections.
  • Enhancing the smile – An oral cavity that is affected by periodontal disease is not attractive to the eye.  In fact, smiles may be marred by brown gums, rotting teeth and ridge indentations.  Pocket reduction surgery halts the progression of gum disease and improves the aesthetics of the smile.

What does pocket reduction surgery involve?

Before recommending treatment or performing any procedure, the dentist will perform thorough visual and X-ray examinations in order to assess the condition of the teeth, gums, and underlying bone. Pocket reduction surgery can be performed under local or general anesthetic depending on patient preferences.

The gums will be gently pulled back from the teeth and bacteria and calculus (tartar) will be eliminated.  Scaling and root planing will generally be required to fully remove the ossification (tartar) from the surface of the tooth root.  If the root is not completely smooth, a planing procedure will be performed to ensure that when the gums do heal, they will not reattach to rough or uneven surfaces.

The final part of the surgery is usually the administration of an antimicrobial liquid to eliminate any remaining bacteria and promote healing.  The gum is then sutured with tiny stitches that are left in place for 5-10 days.

Though the gums will be more sensitive immediately following the procedure, there will be a significant reduction in pocket depth and a vast improvement in the condition of the teeth and gums.

If you have any questions about pocket reduction surgery or treatment for periodontal disease, please contact our practice.

Contact Us

We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form below.


Dr. Wetzel is an absolutely incredible gem of a dental surgeon. In every manner of incredible he and his lovely assistant deserves major props.

I am or was a big chicken of the procedure, but based on a small Asian jaw, awful bite and one horizontally impacted wisdom tooth that was causing bone loss, and another slanted and also impacted I had to do something. Due to difficulty taking time off work I got 7 teeth taken out for braces, bite and health. I was terrified to be honest but the office is beautiful, a great place to drool all over yourself ( more on that later) and the pain is minimal considering 2 impacted wisdom teeth are difficult to manage.

I only remember talking to him and joking with him when all of a sudden my memory lapsed and I woke up feeling no pain and they were almost done. I was in disbelief but I remembered hearing about that. There is super slight soreness now 12 hours post op but it actually is better than the soreness from braces! Isn't that crazy? Lastly as someone who only had dentists aged 55 and older I can tell you don't worry. His youthful appearance belies his ability and incredible expertise. :)

Oh and a Warning! You will drool everywhere and I wish I bought a towel for that. Lol. In any case definitely come see him. The drive is worth his ability and he and his assistant is honest, intelligent, kind and super duper skilled!
Tracy is also super kind and the entire staff is great!

I will trust him not only for my first surgery but every one thereafter!

Miss W.

Great periodontist. Very professional and competent. Prices are reasonable compared to similar services elsewhere. Reception staff and nurses are very kind and takes time to explain everything and address all concerns. I highly recommend this office.

Sara G.

Dr. Wetzel is a real professional as well as a likeable person. You don't always get that in an oral surgeon. LOL. His staff is super friendly and you really feel that the whole office cares about your well being. Also, Dr. Wetzel instills me with confidence. I trust him with any procedure. So far I have had a bone graft, an extraction, and a large gum graft. I am looking toward to two dental implants and another gum graft and bone graft. You can tell he is really focused on the task at hand when he is doing a procedure and he takes surgery to the level of an art. Clearly, he has the experience and skills to improvise when he runs into snafus. I had a question about my pain after my last surgery and called his after-hours emergency number, and he called me back within 2 minutes. You can't ask for more than that. Also, if you have Delta Dental, then Tracy will lay out your whole plan for all of your work and tell you how much is covered by Delta and how much you will have left to pay. No surprises. Plus, Dr. Wetzel's new office is super cool. The design is tres chic;) I wish he did regular dentistry too.

Dr. Felicia D.

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Office Location

  • Salinas
  • 1112 Pajaro St.
  • Salinas, CA
  • 93901
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  • Call: (831) 424-2214