Gum surgery is recommended to correct moderate to severe forms of gum disease. The objective is to allow your dentist to gain direct access to hardened tartar deposits around the roots of your teeth that lies deep below the gum line, reshape the supporting bone and reduce the depth of gum pockets. The treatment is usually performed by a gum specialist (Periodontist).
Benefits of gum surgery.
The benefits of surgery is to enhance healing of the supporting gum and bone around the affected teeth so that patients can continue to keep and use them. The reduction of gum pockets also facilitates home care, making it easier for you to maintain a healthy and functional dentition.
What will the periodontist do?
Your periodontist will initially numb the gums using a local anaesthetic so that you remain comfortable during the procedure. A small incision is made along the gum margin to enable the periodontist to fold back the gums and expose the roots of the affected teeth. Identified areas of hardened deposits that harbour bacteria removed from the root surface using a combination of hand instruments, ultrasonic devices and in some cases using lasers. The periodontist will subsequently proceed to smoothen and recontour the irregular surface of the damaged bony areas. The gums are finally repositioned and held in place using stiches.
How long will it take?
The procedure time varies depending on the number and location of the affected teeth. The average procedure time is approximately 45 minutes.
What is the experience like?
The procedure is fairly painless as it is performed under local anaesthetic and feels a little bit like scaling & polishing. Some patients may opt for sedation if they feel particularly anxious about the surgery.
What to expect after the surgery?
Following surgery, the surgical site may feel slightly tender, sore and swollen for up to week. Some patients may also experience more sensitivity to hot and cold during the initial healing period. You may be prescribed strong painkillers to relieve the discomfort, antibiotics to prevent infection and an antibacterial mouthwash to keep the mouth clean.
While most patients are able to resume their normal routines the day after the surgery, It is best to avoid chewing on hard food (e.g. ice and nuts), especially at the surgical site for the next few days. Smoking have been proven to interfere with healing. You are advised to work out a plan with your periodontist on how best to manage this habit to facilitate your quick recovery.
Your periodontist will review your progress, clean the surgical site and remove the stitches 7-10 days later.
Are there any risks involved?
The procedure may cause an initial increase sensitivity to temperature (hot or cold) and pH changes. Your periodontist may apply topical fluoride gels or employ the use of a hard tissue laser to help manage this complication.
Some patients may also feel that their teeth appear to be longer or observe larger gaps between the teeth after the surgery. The impact will be dependent on the location of the affected teath and severity of the gum disease. You are encouraged to discuss your aesthetic expectations with your periodontist prior to the surgery.
The health of your gums may also be affected by certain chronic diseases (e.g. diabetes) and consequently its ability to heal after surgery. Do make it a point to inform your periodontist about any conditions that you may have as well as any medication that you are taking for these conditions.
While most patients will experience improvements after the surgery, the long term success of the surgery is dependent on patient’s ability to maintain optimal home dental care and attend regular preventive dental care visits with his/her favourite dentist. Gum disease can recur if the patient is not motivated to do so. Retreatment may be needed in refractory cases.