When severe gum disease, also known as periodontitis develops, your teeth are prone to damage. The bone tissue and ligaments that surround your teeth are destroyed. Without professional treatment, gum disease may worsen into a severe gum infection.
This may lead to a gradual depletion of the bone structure and loss of multiple teeth. If the gum disease cannot be treated by non-surgical treatments like scaling and cleaning, you may need to consider gingival flap surgery as your best option.
What Is Gingival Flap Surgery
Gingival flap surgery, which is also referred to as pocket depth reduction, is the leading method for treating periodontal pockets. The primary purpose of this procedure is to reduce the depth of periodontal pockets to eliminate bacteria and also to treat gum disease. This process involves folding back the gum to expose the bone and roots of each tooth.
Gingival flap surgery is performed to restore lost bone and to help create a conducive environment around your teeth and gums in a bid to enable you to clean and maintain your teeth easily. It allows you to keep your natural teeth for an extended period.
What is the purpose of a gingival flap surgery?
The primary objective of flap surgery is to remove or reduce the pocket itself. When your periodontitis or gum disease advances, your dental health professional may need to peel back the gums to treat the underlying infection. This includes the removal of any dead tissues and examining any bone or malformations that may be contributing to your gum issues. To access the pocket, your periodontist will make a flap-like incision in the gum tissue.
How Do You Prepare For A Flap Surgery?
Your dental hygienist does a good part of the preparation for flap surgery. The dental hygienist will remove the tartar and plaques surrounding your teeth to ensure they are as clean as possible. They will also take the time to evaluate your health, and medical history to ensure you are a good candidate for the surgery.
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How the Procedure Is Performed
First, your dentist will numb the gums to eliminate any pain whatsoever from the surgical site. After the anaesthesia takes effect, the periodontist will make a small incision to separate the gum from the teeth. They will use a scalpel to pull the gum away from your teeth to form a flap.
This will give the doctor a direct access to the bone that supports the teeth and its roots. Once they gain a complete access, they will examine the exposed bone and root, and proceed to remove the inflamed tissue between your teeth. In some cases, your dentist may need to remove the infected gum tissue from holes in the bone.
After that, they will undertake a root scaling and planing procedure to clean out the plaque and tartar. If your doctor notices any bone defects, they will eliminate them via osseous recontouring to smoothen any rough bone edges or irregularities.
Finally, your gums will be stitched back into place. In most cases, your dentist may use self-dissolving stitches that dissolve on their own, while other times, you may be required to come back after a week or 10 days to remove the stitches as well as check your progress. Your periodontist may cover the surgical site with a periodontal bandage or pack.
What Are The Follow-up Treatments?
After the surgery, you may have mild to moderate discomfort. Your periodontist will prescribe over the counter pain medication to help you cope with it. While your surgical site is still healing, it is crucial that you keep the area as clean as possible. You are expected to brush and floss the rest of your mouth regularly. If a periodontal pack does not cover the surgical site, you can use a toothbrush to remove the plaque from your teeth gently. Your periodontist may prescribe antimicrobial mouth rinses that contain chlorhexidine after the surgery. These rinses help to kill bacteria in your mouth as well as to heal it. If you have a swelling, place an ice pack on the outer side of your face near the surgical site.
What Precautions Should You Take After Surgery?
Gingival flap surgery is not a cure. Therefore, the chances of a recurrence are always there. For this reason, you need to undertake proper hygiene and maintenance to prevent a recurrence.
Here are some of the precautions that you can take after the surgery:
- Avoid driving immediately after the surgery. Take some time off to rest adequately
- Take the medication as prescribed by your dentist
- Apply an ice pack on the surgical area to reduce swelling
- Use an antibacterial mouthwash to rinse your mouth
- Avoid smoking or using a straw to drink soft drinks as it can create unnecessary pressure that may cause the clot formed to dislodge
How Do Your Gums Look Like After Surgery?
The contour shape of your gums may change slightly after the surgery.
Are There Any Risks Associated With Flap Surgery?
After the flap surgery:
- The roots of your teeth may become more sensitive
- Your teeth become more prone to developing cavities in the roots
- The gum surgery may introduce harmful bacteria into your bloodstream
- Your gum tissues are more at risk of infection
If you have a condition that puts you at a higher risk of an infection, you may need to take antibiotics before and after the surgery. Some of these conditions include:
- Various heart problems. Your heart is at risk of getting an infection called endocarditis
- If you have an impaired immune system
- If you have had any recent significant surgeries, an artificial hip or heart valve
When Should You Contact Your Dentist?
After the surgery, it is normal to experience some discomfort and pain during the first 48 hours. You may also experience some minor bleeding during this period. However, if the pain and bleeding persist after the first three days, contact your dentist as soon as you can. This may be a sign of an infection that needs to be treated immediately.
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Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at their disposal.
Dr Joseph Xuereb
Dental & Implant Surgeon. Principal
Savina Dental Clinics