Gum disease is a chronic, though common, condition resulting from a buildup of harmful oral bacteria. While professional cleanings are usually sufficient to address the condition in its early stages, patients suffering from advanced periodontitis may require a gingivectomy to remove diseased tissue. Patients can typically return to normal activities the same day of their surgery. Dr. Joe Bousaba has undergone extensive training and can perform a gentle and effective gingivectomy to help you protect your smile at our practice in Richmond, VA.
During a gingivectomy, the doctor will use manual techniques or a soft tissue laser to gently remove damaged tissue.
When Is a Gingivectomy Necessary?
Gingivectomy may be recommended to patients suffering from advanced gum disease. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, causes pockets of bacteria to develop in the soft oral tissue. Since bacteria multiply very quickly, these pockets can expand rapidly, pulling away from the tooth roots. Common symptoms of advanced gum disease include:
- Bleeding gums
- Dental sensitivity
- Visible gum recession
- Chronic bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Tooth loss
- Jawbone recession
We will typically begin with the most conservative treatment options. However, if the condition is too advanced for scaling and root planing or antibiotics, surgery may be necessary. To make an appropriate treatment recommendation, Dr. Bousaba will conduct a complete evaluation, which may also include x-rays to identify any signs of bone loss.
What to Expect during the Procedure
Before your surgery begins, the doctor will administer local anesthesia to numb the treatment area. We also offer additional sedation options including nitrous oxide and oral conscious sedation to help you relax during the procedure. The doctor will begin your procedure by carefully trimming away the damaged tissue using manual techniques or a laser. Simultaneously, he will reshape the gums and reposition the tissues around the dental roots, if necessary.
A gingivectomy can be vital, not only to a patient’s smile, but to their overall physical health as well.
Once the process is complete, the doctor may place surgical dressings and stitches in the treatment area to protect the gums as they heal. Depending on the extent of the procedure, a gingivectomy could take up to one hour. Many surgeries, however, take just a few minutes. Sometimes, we may also provide topical medication to discourage the growth of bacteria.
Healing from a Gingivectomy
Healing after gingivectomy may take a few weeks, although symptoms should subside within a few days. Most patients can return to their normal activities as soon as the anesthesia wears off. For the first day or two, bleeding may occur, especially following traditional surgery. Biting down on a piece of gauze can help reduce bleeding. Swelling and inflammation are also likely. A mild anti-inflammatory and ice pack can help minimize discomfort and reduce swelling. A soft diet is also an important part of the healing process. Even after patients are able to eat a more varied diet, they may need to avoid spicy and very crunchy foods for a few weeks, as these can irritate the surgical site.
Patients should be especially careful when brushing their teeth and use an antibacterial mouthwash to reduce the risk of infection. In addition to following post-operative guidelines, it is essential that patients attend all follow-up appointments so that we can check for signs of complications and determine whether additional treatment may be necessary. If dressings or non-dissolvable stitches were applied, these will typically be removed one week to ten days after surgery.
Maintaining Healthy Gums
Although a gingivectomy can eliminate damaged tissue, there is no permanent cure for gum disease. In order to minimize the risk of recurrence, patients will need to be proactive in maintaining their oral health. We often recommend three to four cleanings and exams a year for patients who are prone to reinfection. With additional visits, we can more effectively monitor gum health, treating the first signs of a flare-up. We may also suggest specialized rinses and other products to target oral bacteria more aggressively. With this level of attention, many patients can avoid serious gum damage and tooth loss.
Why Treatment Is Important
A gingivectomy can be vital, not only to a patient’s smile, but to their overall physical health. When left untreated, periodontitis can lead to widespread tooth loss. At the same time, gum surgery may help to minimize your risk of developing certain serious health concerns. Periodontitis has been linked to a higher risk for heart disease, stroke, and complications during pregnancy.
Seek Treatment Today
Patients should seek periodontal care as soon as the first symptoms of gum disease are present. With our help, you can enjoy an attractive smile, improved oral health, and peace of mind for years to come. To schedule your consultation, contact us online or call our team at (804) 282-2990.