Flap Surgeries and Gum Treatment
Periodontal flap surgery may be needed to treat certain gum diseases and conditions, such as gingivitis or periodontitis. This type of surgery is commonly known as gum surgery.
The procedure aims to treat the gum disease and any damage it may have caused by:
- Regrowing damaged bones and tissues
- Preventing tooth loss
- Reducing gum gaps between teeth, known as black triangles
- Reshaping the jaw bone to lower the risk for bacterial growth in bone crevices
- Eliminating bacteria and infection
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can cause gum redness, swelling, and bleeding. Most often, gingivitis occurs due to poor oral hygiene, plaque, and tartar build-up. Professional treatment can reverse the condition.
What is periodontitis?
Periodontitis is a more severe form of gum disease in which gingivitis has worsened and advanced, leading to an inflammatory response that destroys bone and tissues.
During this inflammatory process, the gums begin to separate from the teeth. This causes spaces called pockets to develop, which in turn trap bacteria and lead to infection.
As a result, tooth loss and bone damage can occur.
Types of surgical procedures
Which kind of surgery a dental surgeon performs depends on the type and severity of the gum disease.
Before surgery, a dental surgeon might give the gums a deep clean. One procedure known as deep scaling can remove tartar and bacteria from teeth and gums.
Another procedure known as root planing can smooth the surfaces of the roots of the teeth, meaning that there are fewer places for tartar and bacteria to build up. This procedure also removes any tartar that is on the root.
Deep scaling and root planing usually occur at the same time.
Flap surgery is especially helpful for people who have tartar deposits in deep pockets. The procedure involves lifting the gums off of the teeth to remove tartar build-up.
After the surgeon has cleaned the area and removed the tartar, they will stitch the gums into place to fit around the teeth. Sometimes, the bone may require reshaping during this procedure.
Bone and soft tissue grafting
When the bone that surrounds the root of the tooth is damaged or destroyed, a person may need a bone graft. This procedure involves replacing the damaged bone with artificial bone graft powder. The goal of bone grafting is to hold the tooth in place and help it to regrow.
A lowered gum line, known as gingival recession, is caused by the loss of gum tissue and may require soft tissue grafting to reduce the risk of further damage. During this procedure, tissue from one part of the palate is removed and re-attached to the area where the gum has receded. Tissue grafting not only reduces the risk for further damage but also covers any exposed roots.
Guided tissue regeneration
During this procedure, a periodontist will place a small piece of mesh-like material between a person’s bone and gum tissue.
The material prevents the gum from growing into space where bone should be, allowing the bone and connective tissue to regrow.
Other treatment options include:
- Laser therapy: Laser therapy is used to reduce the size of pockets and restore damaged connective tissue.
- Tissue-stimulating proteins: This procedure involves using a protein-containing gel to stimulate bone and tissue growth.
Once the planned dental surgery is complete, the surgeon will stitch the gums back into place, using fine thread stitches. The dentist will remove the stitches 7 to 10 days after surgery. Recovery times will depend on the extent of the procedure taking place Typically, people will require pain relief medications in the days after gum surgery. Again, the dentist will talk to the person about any recommended drugs before they leave the dental clinic.
- Using an antiseptic mouthwash to keep the area clean and to avoid infection
- Avoiding strenuous exercise
- Eating soft foods in the days following surgery
- Not smoking
We will schedule an appointment to return to the office for 1–2 weeks time. During this appointment, the periodontist will check how the gums are healing and, if required, remove any stitches.
A person’s gums will look and feel different after surgery. The gums and teeth will heal, tighten, and become firmer and stronger. Some people may have tooth sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures and may find relief by using desensitizing toothpaste.