What To Expect When You Have Flap Surgery For Gum Disease

When you have gum disease, your dentist may treat it with antibiotics and deep cleaning. If your condition isn't too severe, these treatments may be enough to reverse your condition. However, if you have advanced gum disease, you may need to have surgery in order to save your teeth. That's because when gum disease is advanced, it affects the bone under your teeth as well as your gums. Here is some information on having flap surgery as a treatment for gum disease.

It's An Outpatient Procedure

Although the flap procedure is a type of surgery, you can have it done in your dentist's office. A local anesthesia is all that is needed, so you don't have to worry about undergoing general anesthesia unless your dentist thinks it is best because of other medical problems or a dental phobia. The local anesthetic will prevent pain and discomfort during the procedure. You'll be awake through the surgery and you'll be able to go home right afterward.

What Happens During The Surgery

Flap surgery is necessary when gum disease has advanced deep into your gums and bone, so once your gums are numb, the dentist cuts into your gums and pulls the tissue back like a flap. This exposes the roots of your teeth and your jawbone. When this area is exposed, the dentist can scrape away diseased tissue. Your dentist may also alter the shape of your bone so it has a smoother surface. This makes it more difficult for bacteria to take hold, which will reduce the risk of gum disease returning. In addition, your dentist may need to do a bone graft or a tissue graft if the infection has destroyed too much healthy tissue.

Before the dentist places your gums back in the original position, he or she may insert antibacterial gel or spheres in the opening that will release medication over a period of days to kill off any remaining infection. Then, your gums are repositioned and held in place with stitches. Your gums will be secured tight against your teeth, so the pockets formed by the gum disease will be gone, which will make it more difficult for food and other irritants to get under your gums to cause inflammation and infection.

What To Expect During Recovery

Your gums will be sore once the anesthetic wears off. Your dentist may send you home with prescription pain pills to take for a few days after your surgery. You can also use ice packs on the outside of your jaw to help with the pain. You'll need to be careful not to dislodge the stitches or cause bleeding, so you will be limited to soft foods for a day or two. Also, you should avoid sucking on as straw or smoking a cigarette. Sleeping with your head elevated may also be advised. You'll go back to the dentist in a few days to have your stitches removed and your progress evaluated. You should hold off on strenuous activities until your dentist says it is okay. Straining or bending over might dislodge a blood clot that's forming to help the incision heal and this could cause bleeding to start again.

Flap surgery can reverse your condition and save your teeth, but it won't prevent further instances of gum disease. Be sure to follow your dentist's advice concerning dental cleanings and home care so you can keep your gums healthy and prevent the need for gum disease treatment in the future. For more information, contact local professionals like Fuller Periodontics & Implant Dentistry.