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Getting gum surgery done sounds scarier than it actually is. It is, in fact, one of the least painful procedures that can be done in dentistry. We outline exactly what you can expect during gum surgery in this article.

Dentists and dentistry, in general, get a bad rap as regards to pain. While dentistry has come a long way from even a few decades ago, most dental procedures are now painless. This is especially true for gum surgery.

In fact, gum treatment ranging from simple bleeding gums treatment to invasive gum surgery involving the use of artificial bone grafts is all absolutely painless. The only thing that people will experience is the prick of the needle used to deliver anesthesia. That’s it.

How is gum surgery performed?

Before the actual date of the gum surgery, the dentist will do a thorough clinical examination, record any relevant medical history, and order a few x-rays [1] to check the status of the bone underneath. All the information gathered should provide the gum surgeon a clear idea of the extent of the surgery.

The actual procedure of the surgery is pretty straightforward. Local anesthesia is administered to sufficiently numb the entire surgical site [2]. The gum surgeon will then use a scalpel to perform incisions around the teeth. Once the incisions have been given, the surgeon will pull back the gum tissues and gain access to the roots as well as the bone that surrounds the tooth.

Once sufficient access has been gained, the surgeon will use specialized curettes to clean the roots, the bone, and remove any infected tissue that can be found [3]. Depending upon the kind and extent of bone loss, a decision may be taken to place some additional bone graft and attempt to regenerate the lost bone [4,5].

The entire procedure should take around 45 minutes to one hour.

Once the surgeon is satisfied that the root surfaces have been cleaned, the gums are stitched back into place.  Most commonly, stitches that need to be removed after 1 week are placed [6]. Dissolvable stitches are also available but they can sometimes dissolve a little too early in the mouth.

Sometimes, there are teeth in the area of the surgery that cannot be saved and must be extracted. These extractions can also be performed during the surgery itself so as to lessen an appointment for the patient.

Healing after gum surgery

A lot of patients are worried that they will be in a lot of pain and discomfort once the effects of the anesthesia have worn off. That is absolutely not the case. Unlike other procedures like a root canal or an extraction where pain can sometimes appear after the effects of the anesthesia have worn off, healing after gum surgery is almost always uneventful.

The time taken for the initial healing to occur is considered to be one week. This is how long it takes for the incisions to heal up and so the stitches can be removed without any worry [7].

The long-term healing, though, can take several months. It is advised that a reduction in gingival pockets around the teeth not be measured before three months from the completion of gum surgery because that is how long it takes for the entire periodontal structures to reform and adapt.

Bone grafts, if placed, may take 6 months to 1 year to be integrated into the bone and hopefully be replaced by naturally formed bone [8].

Maintenance after gum surgery

Now that you have got your gum surgery procedure out of the way, you want to make sure that your gums don’t regress to the same condition again. The only way to make sure of that not happening is to maintain immaculate oral hygiene.

Simple things like brushing twice a day, using an antibacterial mouthwash prescribed by the dentist, and getting a professional cleaning done at regular intervals are all that is required to fight gum disease [9]. Flossing is something that your dentists asks you to avoid for a few months after the gum surgery has been performed.

A lot of people find it counter-intuitive but while flossing is excellent as bleeding gums treatment, it may cause minor injuries to the gums and delay the healing process after surgery. The use of a medicated mouthwash should help take care of the plaque that forms in between teeth [10].

The frequency of getting a scaling done is also different for different people. For people with advanced gum disease, it is imperative that they get a scaling done every three months for the first year after gum surgery. For others, once every six months should suffice.

This recall schedule is equally as important in maintaining the gum health after surgery otherwise a progression of the disease and possible loss of teeth is all but guaranteed.  

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