According to theAmerican Dental Associationnearly 47.2 percent of Americans over 30 have some form of periodontal disease (also known as gum disease). Without preventing gum disease, or taking proper care once diagnosed, patients who have a form of gum disease will likely eventually lose their teeth. A gingivectomy may be performed to heal the effects of periodontal disease or to correct a gum condition involving the structures around the teeth. It is one of a few procedures that can help reverse periodontal issues. Read on to learn more about the procedure, how it is done and if it may be a possible treatment option to return your smile and gums to tip-top shape.

What is periodontal disease and how does it develop?

Periodontal disease begins with bacteria present in the mouth attaching to the teeth. The bacteria collect and multiply, forming a biofilm called plaque. If plaque is left on the teeth, the adjacent gingival tissues can become inflamed, resulting in the development of gingivitis, an early form of gum disease. Daily flossing and twice-daily brushing with a toothpaste that fights bacteria can help prevent gingivitis. Plaque and food debris are removed by oral hygiene practices and clean the surface of the teeth and eliminate bacterial plaque at the gum line of the teeth. However, if plaque and food debris are not removed and oral hygiene practices are not maintained, then gingivitis will get worse and the gum tissue can become more inflamed, bleeding can occur, the area between the tooth and gum tissue can become deepened to form a periodontal pocket and periodontal disease can develop.
A periodontal pocket develops as the plaque bacteria continues to accumulate and moves below the gum line. At this point, home care is not effective enough in removing the dental plaque. If it is left untreated the biofilm will continue to spread below the gum line and infect the inside of the pocket. This type of advanced periodontal disease can affect the roots of the teeth and they can become infected, too. The teeth may become loose or uncomfortable and the patient will require gum surgery. At this point, your dental professional may advise that you need a gingivectomy.

What is a gingivectomy?
The procedure is the total removal of a portion of your gums from in and around a tooth or teeth in order to treat gum disease or to lengthen the height or width of a tooth or a section of teeth. It can be performed by a general dentist who has training in periodontal surgery. Another type of periodontal surgery is called a gingivoplasty. A gingivoplasty is different than a gingivectomy as the former only involves a partial removal of the gums. The latter removes an entire portion of a gum section.

How is a gingivectomy performed?
Surgeries are completed with a surgical scalpel; however, in some instances a low-frequency laser may be employed instead. The diseased tissue is trimmed and removed, the remaining gums are reattached in and around the teeth by stitches, and the area is cleaned with saline and special rinses. A local anesthetic is used to keep the patient comfortable during the procedure. After the procedure is completed, a surgical dressing, or pack, is placed in and around the teeth and gums. This dressing is left in place for about a week. Swishing with anantibacterial mouthwashcan help in the healing process.

What care is required after a gingivectomy?
Most patients can return to a normal oral care regimen in less than a month after the procedure. Routine checkups with a dentist or periodontist will ensure that the surgery is a success. The dental professional who performed the surgery will likely follow up with visits every three months, and then at least a twice yearly preventive health visit to clean in and around the surgical site.

If you have any questions about gingivectomies, call Winning Smiles to schedule an appointment with your dentist 716-332-2444.

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