If you’ve been told that you need to undergo gum surgery, you might be a little nervous—or very nervous—about what’s ahead. But, by having an understanding of what happens during this procedure, and what to expect after it, you can feel a bit more at ease. So, to give you a general overview of what’s involved in gum surgery, we’ve compiled some helpful information below.
Typically, gum surgery might be required to treat gum disease when other, less invasive treatments haven’t worked or the disease has already progressed too far for other treatments to be effective.
Your dentist might recommend seeing a periodontist for gum surgery if gum disease has become so severe that tissues and bones around the gums have been impacted, or if the gums have separated from your teeth, leaving behind pockets where infections can develop.
It’s important to receive the appropriate treatments, such as scaling and root planing, as well as surgery, to restore the health of your gums. Without healthy gums, you risk losing your teeth!
The type of gum surgery that you’ll need will depend on factors like how far the gum disease has progressed. Here is a list of some of the common procedures that your periodontist might prescribe:
Flap Surgery – If you’ve developed deep pockets with plaque, tartar, and bacteria, the periodontist may recommend flap surgery, which is also known as pocket reduction. Basically, the surgeon will create an incision to lift your gums and deeply clean underneath them, as well as smooth the bone if needed. Then, to ensure your gums will no longer have pockets, they’ll be stitched so they can properly cover your teeth.
Bone or Tissue Graft – If the gum disease has advanced to the point that the bone around a tooth’s root has become damaged, a bone graft might be needed to add new bone to the area so you can reduce the risk of losing the tooth. On the other hand, if your gums are receding, your periodontist might use a tissue graft to replace tissue that’s been lost, and to cover a tooth’s roots if they’ve been exposed because of gum loss.
Guided Tissue Regeneration – If gum disease has caused the bone that supports a tooth to become severely damaged or destroyed, you might need a procedure known as regeneration. Your periodontist will start by folding back the gums and cleaning out any bacteria. Then, tissue-stimulating proteins, membranes, or a bone graft will be set in place to help ensure the gums won’t grow where there should be bone. The area is allowed to heal so that tissue and bone can regrow properly.
Your periodontist will give you instructions on any steps you need to take before the procedure. Then, he or she might use a local anesthetic so you don’t feel anything during the gum surgery, or you might be partially or completely sedated. This helps ensure you’ll be comfortable from start to finish.
Once the procedure is complete, you’ll receive instructions on how to have a smooth recovery. You may also be given a prescription for pain medication to take at home while you heal. And, if you received stitches, your periodontist will also advise you on when to have them removed.
Keep in mind, too, that you might be required to eat only soft foods after you’ve undergone gum surgery. An antiseptic mouthwash may also be prescribed. Just be sure to follow your periodontist’s instructions closely to reduce the odds of complications while your mouth heals.
At follow-up appointments, your periodontist will examine your mouth to ensure everything is healing well. During these exams, discuss any symptoms you’re experiencing, such as increased sensitivity, to be sure everything is normal and you don’t need additional care.
After your mouth has totally healed, your teeth and gums should look and feel better than they did before the procedure. At that point, it’s up to you to follow a strict oral hygiene routine at home, and to continue receiving professional level care. Doing so may help you avoid developing the same gum issues in the future.
Gum surgery can certainly be stressful, not only on your mind, but also on your wallet. To help ease your fears about out-of-pocket costs, consider enrolling in a high-quality, reliable dental insurance plan like one of the many options offered by Spirit Dental.
With the right coverage, you’ll be able to afford gum treatments so you can maintain a healthy mouth and strong teeth. And you also won’t ever need to miss out on professional cleanings (you can get three cleanings per year with Spirit!), which can also help keep gingivitis and gum disease at bay.