Gum surgery also termed as periodontal surgery, is performed for treating certain types of gum diseases and conditions like periodontitis and gingivitis.
This procedure is able to remove bacteria from beneath the gums, make it easier for you to clean your teeth, prevent any future damage of the gums and reshape the bones that support your teeth.
People who are suffering from severe or any advanced form of disease around the gums can be candidates for this surgery. Symptoms of gum disease include:
- Deep pockets that form between your gums and teeth
- Gums that are swollen, red or bleeding
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Pain when chewing
- Gums that recede or pull away from the teeth
You may also need this surgery if you have any gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease which leads to swelling, bleeding and gum redness. Usually, gingivitis is a result of improper oral hygiene, plaque and tartar buildup. The condition can be reversed with the help of professional treatment.
When gingivitis gets worse and advanced, it leads to a more severe form of gum disease known as periodontitis. This condition leads to an inflammatory response that destroys the bones and tissues. This can cause tooth loss and bone damage.
Gum Surgery is of different types and what type of surgery is performed will depend on the type of severity of your gum disease.
Flap surgery- This method is helpful for people having tartar deposits in deep pockets. The procedure involves lifting the gums off of the teeth so that the tartar buildup can be removed.
After the area is cleaned by the surgeon and he/she has removed the tartar, they will be stitching the gums to fit around the teeth. Sometimes, during the procedure, the bone might require reshaping.
Guided tissue regeneration- In this method, a dental surgeon places a tiny piece of mesh-like material between a person’s bone and gum tissue.
This material helps to prevent the gum from growing into space where bone should be. This allows the bone as well as the connective tissue to regrow.
Bone grafting- When the bone surrounding the root of the tooth is damaged, a bone graft might be required. This method involves replacing the damaged bone with a new one. This might be your own bone, a donated bone or an artificial one.
Tissue grafting- During this method, a dental surgeon will be removing tissue from one part of the body and re-attach it to another part where the gum has receded. The tissue generally comes from the roof of your mouth.
Before you undergo gum surgery, a dentist will most likely need to perform a pre-operative exam for making sure that the surgery will be safe.
The dentist will likely:
- Take a review of your medical history and perform a few tests
- Check for any infections, abscesses, or any lesions that can make complicate the healing process
- Examine your teeth, mouth, and jaw to make sure you are healthy
- Discuss all risks and benefits of this surgery, and receive your consent to move forward with the procedure
Gum surgery procedures generally take around 2 hours. It generally involves the following steps:
Sometimes, the surgery requires a person to be asleep, and therefore the dentist might use general anesthesia. At other times, the dentist might use a local anesthetic to numb the gums. The dentist will also use sterile equipment during the procedure, such as instruments and drapes, for lowering any risk of infection.
After he/she makes small incisions or cuts along the gum line, your dentist will lift the gums away from your teeth. This will allow your dentist to see the roots better. This will then allow him/her to remove and clean away any tartar, plaque, or infection.
After the deep cleaning is done, the dentist can perform any other procedures as required such as gum reshaping or bone regeneration.
Once the surgery is complete, your dentist will be stitching the gums back into their places. After around a week to ten days, the dentist will be able to remove the stitches.
Your recovery generally depends on the severity of your disease, your overall health and the type of procedure that was performed. It is important to follow the instructions of your dentist quite carefully.
Like any other type of dental surgery, you might expect to have some minor bleeding and discomfort. After around 24 hours, you should be able to resume your normal routine.
Your dentist might ask you to refrain from smoking because it can interfere with the healing process. The longer you can avoid smoking after the surgery, the better it is for you. You might also be asked to use a special mouth rinse or take any antibiotic after the surgery. It is to be noted that you may not be able to brush or floss in certain areas of your mouth until they have healed. For a minimum of two weeks, it is recommended that you eat only soft foods.
Suitable foods include pasta, mashed potatoes, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.
It is best to have a discussion with your dentist, regarding the risks, benefits and alternatives before you undergo the treatment.
The procedure is considered to be safe, though in few rare cases, there might be infections. After the procedure, people experience mild to moderate pain, which can be easily managed with medications. If moderate swelling occurs, you can talk to your dentist about it. He/she can give you more information regarding how you can handle any pain or swelling.