Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) is a serious problem for the American population. In fact, estimates suggest that almost half of U.S. adults have some form of periodontal disease. This inflammatory condition occurs when plaque and tartar that form on the teeth begin to have an effect on the gum tissue. This is because the bacteria within them spreads onto the soft tissue, causing swelling, irritation, and redness. If the bacteria are left to thrive, gum disease can become progressively worse and as it does, the consequences become far more severe. Fortunately, there are treatments that can help to halt and reverse the effects of periodontal disease and help patients to enjoy healthier and more attractive teeth and gums. One of these treatments is known as a gingivectomy.
What is a gingivectomy?
A gingivectomy, which is the original and first form of periodontal treatment, is a dental procedure in which a dentist or oral surgeon cuts away part of the gum tissue. This can be done both for functional reasons, such as when treating gum disease, as well as being a popular cosmetic treatment. When used in cosmetic dentistry, a gingivectomy is performed in order to create a more even gum line across the width of a patient’s smile. It can also be used to treat a ‘gummy smile’, which is a condition whereby the patient has excessive amounts of the gum tissue on a show when they smile.
What will happen during a gingivectomy?
A gingivectomy procedure usually takes between 30 and 60 minutes depending on exactly how much gum tissue needs to be removed. Some patients will require multiple appointments during which different sections of the gum will be reshaped. However, if you only need gum tissue removed from one small area, you may be able to have this done in a single appointment.
Gingivectomies are performed using a local anesthetic to ensure that the patient doesn’t experience any discomfort. Sedation may be possible if you are a particularly nervous or anxious patient. Once this has taken effect, the necessary areas of gum tissue will be carefully cut away and the gum tissue sculpted to create a natural and attractive smile, normally using our cutting-edge laser technology which helps to ensure complete accuracy and minimal risk. If you have gum disease, the affected tissues will be removed to help eliminate the majority of the bacteria from your mouth. When your procedure is complete, we will use sutures to seal your gum tissue and will place a soft, putty-like substance and then bandages over the gums to help protect them while they heal.
How long will it take me to recover from a gingivectomy?
Fortunately, recovery after a gingivectomy is usually fairly fast and straightforward. You should be able to go home as soon as your appointment is complete, and you will be given specific instructions for caring for your gums. It is important that these are followed to help minimize your risk of developing complications. This especially includes taking the complete course of antibiotics provided as this will help to prevent infection. Other key elements of your aftercare will include:
- Avoiding smoking
- Sticking to a soft food diet
- Taking your pain medications
- Brushing and flossing your teeth as normal
Some discomfort is fairly normal, although you may not notice this right away. Over the counter pain relief can be used to ease any pain that you feel. You can also use warm and cold compresses to help ease any inflammation and discomfort. Rinse your mouth regularly using saltwater to help keep your mouth as clean as possible. Don’t use mouthwash or other antiseptics – these will hurt!
You will probably find that your gums bleed for a few days after your gingivectomy procedure. This is normal too, although you will need to replace any bandages or dressings until your gums are fully healed. If you have any concerns about any aspects of the healing process, don’t delay in speaking to our dedicated dental care team.
If you are would like more information about a gingivectomy procedure, or if you would like to book a consultation appointment with our experienced dentistry team, please contact our offices in Tucson, AZ today by calling 520-224-1600.