Periodontal Surgery: What to Expect and How to Prepare for It
Understanding periodontal surgery and preparing for your own procedure.
Periodontitis, the most advanced form of gum disease, often leaves patients with damaged teeth and gum tissue, even after the infection itself has been treated. While soft gum tissue does have some natural regenerative abilities, there is a limit to what your own body can and can’t heal. Gum recession and erosion or missing gum tissue require the assistance of periodontal surgery in order to make a complete recovery.
If you have or had periodontitis, Dr. Sexton will likely recommend periodontal surgery to repair any damage as well as prevent future risks of relapsing gum disease.
Here’s what you should know before your surgery appointment.
What is periodontal surgery?
Periodontal surgery is a form of oral surgery that focuses on treating gum tissue. Periodontal surgery may also be referred to as gum surgery. The goal of gum surgery is two-fold.
Firstly, if your periodontitis is active, periodontal surgery may be a part of your overall periodontal therapy treatment plan. In this case, diseased or damaged tissue will be removed and exposed areas surrounding the teeth repaired in order for healing to take place.
The secondary purpose of periodontal surgery is to repair the damage done as a result of periodontitis. For example, your infection may be under control but your gum tissue could be permanently damaged. In this case, Dr. Sexton will focus on restoring your gum health and repairing common issues, like recessed gum lines or lost gum tissue.
Are there different types of periodontal surgery?
Yes! There are a few different types of periodontal surgery, all of which have different results.
Dr. Sexton may recommend:
- Gingival flap surgery to lift your gums for deep cleaning as part of periodontal therapy. After deep tartar is removed, your gums will be sutured back into position to allow them to heal.
- Soft tissue graft to repair gum recession or any areas of the gums that have sparse or missing tissue.
- Bone graft to repair any damaged or missing bone from under the gums surrounding the teeth. This is often necessary for a future dental implant when periodontitis has caused tooth loss.
- Gingivoplasty to reshape the gum line, often to make space if a tooth damaged by periodontitis needs to be covered with a dental crown.
In some cases, you might need more than one of these procedures to completely restore your smile.
How can I prepare for periodontal surgery?
Dr. Sexton will help prepare you for periodontal surgery by performing an in-depth examination of your mouth, including digital X-rays and similar forms of imaging. Together you’ll review your medical history, discuss treatment options, and decide which form of surgery will yield the best results.
You can help yourself prepare for periodontal surgery by asking Dr. Sexton as many questions as you’d like or asking for additional resources you can read. Before the date of your periodontal surgery, we also recommend finding someone who can drive you home following the surgery. Stocking your fridge with plenty of soft foods will also help you to relax post-surgery.
What can I expect to happen during surgery?
What happens during your surgery largely depends on which form of periodontal surgery you’re undergoing. For minor surgery, you may only need a local anesthetic and be finished in about an hour. For more invasive surgery, you may need to be put under and the entire procedure may take two hours or so.
Dr. Sexton will go over the “game plan” for your surgery before the appointment, including how long it will take and what the process is going to involve. You can even ask for details on the surgery itself if this helps you to feel more comfortable.
How can I take care of my gums post-surgery?
Dr. Sexton will provide a detailed care sheet to take home with you after surgery. You can expect to have some swelling, discomfort, and possibly light bleeding immediately at the surgery site. We recommend taking over-the-counter pain medication and an anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling and control discomfort. Dr. Sexton will direct you on which to take or provide a prescription.
Eat a soft food diet and be cautious of very hot or very cold foods and beverages. We also recommend not smoking or drinking alcohol during the healing process. Do continue with your normal at-home dental care routine, taking special care when brushing and flossing. If you were given a special antibacterial oral rinse, be sure to use this product as often as Dr. Sexton recommends.
Are there any complications I should be aware of?
Complications are always a possibility with any form of surgery, oral or otherwise. For periodontal surgery, some potential complications include prolonged post-op bleeding, prolonged swelling, gum tissue or teeth hypersensitivity, and infection.
However, periodontal surgery is generally considered low-risk and its success rate is exceptionally high. From your very first evaluation to follow-up appointments post-surgery, Dr. Sexton does everything possible to ensure patients have success with their treatment.
Move forward with your periodontal surgery confidently.
The idea of oral surgery can feel very intimidating, but rest assured that periodontal surgery is generally a much easier and more comfortable process than many patients anticipate. Anesthetic ensures you won’t feel a thing during surgery and the option for sedation is available if you’re feeling nervous or anxious. You’ll also experience less swelling and discomfort following surgery thanks to laser dentistry. When you’re ready to move forward with your surgery, you can either call our office or use this online form. If you still have questions about the surgery, we welcome you to contact us and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.