Osseous Surgery

Osseous surgery is a procedure done when you have a pocket around a tooth (or teeth) that has not responded to other treatments. It is done in an effort to help you retain the tooth and create an environment that is easier for you to keep clean.

The surgical procedure is used to smooth and reshape the affected bone and create a shallow pocket that makes it more difficult for the more aggressive bacteria to survive. The surgery includes a thorough cleaning of the root surface. These steps make it harder for the bacteria to grow and multiply and to make it easier for the body to work toward self-repair.

The first step is to identify which teeth need surgery. The primary characteristic is that the pocket around the tooth, when measured by the periodontal probe, is 4mm deep or more. The gum around the tooth may also be red, inflamed, swollen and bleed easily.

osseous diagram

Surgery is generally done after most other treatments have been tried, but the pocket depth remains or has worsened over time.

When the surgical area is feeling “numb” from the local anesthesia, Dr. Reidy will make an incision in the gum tissue around the area to be treated, and lift the gum away from the tooth and underlying bone. This will allow her access and direct vision of the bone and tooth root surface. She will then use an instrument, either a hand instrument or a powered handpiece, to make sure the root surface is thoroughly cleaned.

In an important step in the surgical procedure, the uneven surface of the bone, caused by the destruction of bone by the body’s response to the bacterial attack, is smoothed. The smooth surface is better suited to repair and development of a healthy attachment system.

When the roots have been cleaned (debrided) and the bone reshaped, the gum tissue is trimmed to match the new underlying structure and stitched in place. The stitches will hold the gum tissue in place while it heals.

Dr. Reidy will prescribe a pain medication for you to use during the post-surgical healing phase. The stitches will need to be removed in 6-10 days. On occasion, Dr. Reidy may also use stitches that will dissolve without removal. We will need to check the surgical site about one month post-surgery to ensure the healing is complete.

In some surgeries, Dr. Reidy will use other materials to aid in the bone and soft tissue repair:

  • Emdogain
  • Guided tissue regeneration membrane
  • Sterilized bone graft material

One post-operative effect of osseous surgery is that the tooth may appear longer in your mouth due to bone loss and the removal of a small amount of tissue. This may result in some root sensitivity or food impaction. If the sensitivity is a problem, it can be treated with applications of fluoride. You will be given home care instructions and specialized home care implements to help with any home care issues.

If you have any questions, please call the office.

Web addresses for more info:

If you would like to search for additional information on line – key word search: