Gum Surgery Explained

Posted on: 10 March 2017

A periodontist is usually the type of oral healthcare professional that will undertake gum surgery when it is needed. Essentially, a periodontist is a doctor who has specialised in the treatment of gum disease. Most patients will be referred to a periodontist by their dentist following a routine check-up, especially if their gingivitis – or gum disease – is failing to respond to common treatments, such as the regular use of antibacterial mouthwashes. In the majority of cases, so-called gingival flap surgery is conducted to deal with excessive gingivitis. Here's what you can expect.


Your surgeon, or periodontist, will want to ensure that you are fully prepared for the procedure. From a patient's point of view, this means brushing your teeth thoroughly beforehand, but you will also be consulted on the anaesthesia method to be used. Some people have other medical conditions which restrict which types of anaesthetics can be given to them. In most cases, a normal local anaesthetic will be administered.

Surgical Procedures

During surgery, the periodontist will fold your gums back and away from your teeth to form a flap. This means that the dental professionals involved will be able to reach the infected tissue below the gums. The gingivitis-affected tissue between the teeth and the outer lay of the gums is then removed, usually by cutting it away. After this, tooth scaling and root planing are carried out to get rid of plaque and bacterial deposits which may have built of below the line of the gum. The principle behind scaling and planing is that any rough spots on the tooth enamel that is found are smoothed over. These are the sorts of areas where gum disease can thrive, so it helps to prevent a recurrence of the problem. Your gum's flaps are then put back into position and stitched up.

Post Surgery

In most cases, dentists prefer dissolving stitches which mean that little further action is required by the periodontist. After about ten days patients are normally back to their normal selves. However, a special type of surgical dressing, referred to as a periodontal pack, may be issued in some more advanced cases of gingivitis. This is simply held in position over the affected area until swelling recedes. Some patients find that an ice pack can also help to lessen the feeling of swollen gums whilst they recover. Although you may experience a little bleeding immediately following surgery, this is quite normal and nothing to worry about.