Gingival Flap Surgery
Why would I need gingival flap surgery?
You may need gingival surgery for severe gum disease if it cannot be treated with antibiotics, root planning or scaling. A flap procedure cleans the root of the tooth and repairs bone damage caused by gum disease. This procedure is usually carried out by a periodontist, a specialist in gums.
What should I expect during gingival flap surgery?
Before the procedure starts, you will be given a local anaesthetic to numb the area where the practitioner will work on your gums. From here, the periodontist will pull back a section of your gums to clean the roots and repair damaged bone, where required. The gum flap will then be sewn back into place and covered with a gauze to stop bleeding.
It is common that bone may be:
- Smoothed and reshaped so that plaque cannot grow so easily.
- Repaired or grafted with bone from another part of the body or with man-made materials. You may also have lining put in first to help the bone grow back. This will be removed at a later date.
What should I expect after gingival flap surgery?
It tends to only take a few days to recover from a flap procedure. It is vital, as with any surgery, to follow aftercare instructions as well as you can. Generally the following things are advised for a faster recovery:
- Taking painkillers are prescribed.
- Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water several times a day to reduce swelling.
- Changing pads before they become soaked in blood.
- Relaxing after surgery as strenuous activity can increase bleeding.
- Eating soft foods and gradually moving to solid foods when the area heels.
- Propping your head up with a pillow to reduce bleeding time.
- Taking extra care when brushing your teeth and tongue.
- Do not smoke.
- Applying ice and cold packs to the outside of the mouth to relive pain and swelling.
What potential risks come from gingival flap surgery?
All gum surgery comes with the risk of harmful bacteria being introduced into the bloodstream. Gum tissue can also be at risk to infection. However, this can be resolved with antibiotics before or after surgery, depending on whether you have any serious health condition such as an impaired immune system.
What should I consider before undergoing gingival flap surgery?
A flap procedure is often needed to save teeth that are supported by a bone damaged by gum disease, if this spreads you may lose a tooth. Gum disease may come back if you do not brush and floss regularly after surgery. To promote healing, quitting smoking or the use of any tobacco is crucial. If you continue to smoke afterwards, your ability to fight infection of your gum will decrease. After the procedure you will need to visit your dentist regularly so they can follow your progress.