Gum flap surgery, also known as gingival surgery, is a procedure in which the gums are separated from the teeth and folded back temporarily to allow a dentist to reach the root of the tooth as well as the bone.
It is a leading method for treating and repairing periodontal pockets, which are areas below the gum line where the gum tissue has detached from the teeth. This results in the inability to clean the area properly and therefore harmful bacteria grows rapidly. This bacteria causes:
- Inflammation of the gum tissues
- Sensitivity, bleeding, and pain
- Gum disease
- Loss of tooth-supporting bone structure
- Systemic problems that impact your whole body
Gum flap surgery cleans plaque and removes calculus from the root and also treats gum disease (periodontitis). While it isn’t a cure for gum disease, it does help create an environment that is more conducive to maintaining your overall periodontal health.
This Is What Happens When You Have Gum Flap Surgery
To start, the periodontist numbs the area with a local anesthetic. Next, the doctor will use a scalpel to separate the gums from the teeth. Then they will lift or fold the gums back in the form of a flap.
This process gives the periodontist direct access to the roots and bones that are supporting the teeth.
Once the area is exposed, the dentist
- Removes inflamed tissues from between the teeth and holes in the bone
- Cleans plaque and tartar using a procedure called scaling and root planing
- Eliminates bone defects with a procedure called osseous recontouring
After the procedure is finished, the doctor will place the gums back against the teeth and stitch them to anchor them in place. Depending on the stitches used, you may or may not have to have them removed a week after surgery. Often, a dressing covers the surgical site to protect it.
You may experience mild to moderate discomfort after surgery, for which your dentist may prescribe or suggest an over the counter pain reliever. Swelling is also common and they may suggest that you apply an ice pack to the outside of your face to minimize the effect.
Post procedure care is vital to your recovery and includes:
- Keeping your mouth as clean as possible
- Gently brushing and flossing the rest of your mouth
- Using a toothbrush to gently remove plaque from the teeth of the surgical site (if a dressing is not covering the area)
- Using an antimicrobial mouth rinse to kill bacteria and help the healing process
- Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection
- Follow up reexamine with your periodontist 7 to 10 days post surgery
Unfortunately, your gums in the surgery site are more likely to recede over time. Also, the teeth that were treated may become more sensitive to hot and cold and more likely to develop cavities in the roots.
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