When your gums are healthy, they sit snugly against your teeth, forming a “seal” that keeps out bacteria and food particles. When you have gum disease, your gums become inflamed, they pull away from your teeth, creating pockets for harmful bacteria to fall into. Once inside, the bacteria multiply, adding to the progression of gum disease. The pockets grow deeper, and the bone and supporting structures that hold your teeth in place weaken. Eventually, your teeth can become loose and fall out. At Implant and Periodontal Wellness Center of Arizona, we can perform a gingivectomy to help reduce the depth of these pockets, which can start the healing process.
What Is a Gingivectomy?
Often, when you have gum disease, a scaling and root planing procedure can be enough to remove tartar and bacterial buildup from your teeth, getting rid of the infection and allowing your gums to heal. However, in some cases, the pockets are too deep to be effectively reached by this method, and the infection lingers.
A gingivectomy is a procedure designed to help reduce periodontal pockets, which can then make your teeth easier to clean, and therefore promotes healing. With a gingivectomy, the diseased gum tissue is removed with a laser and then reshaped, which lessens the depth of periodontal pockets. For patients who experience gum recession, we suggest gingival grafts to cover the exposed root and regenerate their beautiful smile. If your teeth are severely decayed we may need to perform a tooth extraction and a ridge preservation procedure to keep the integrity of your jaw.
How Is it Done?
A gingivectomy is often done following a scaling and root planing procedure. Once your teeth are thoroughly cleaned of tartar and bacteria, we will administer a local anesthetic (if one has not already been given). Traditionally, a scalpel was used to perform a gingivectomy. Today, however, we make use of laser technology. This helps to limit bleeding, along with other issues commonly associated with the use of a scalpel, such as swelling and discomfort. A laser also promotes faster healing. Once finished, we measure your periodontal pockets to make sure that they are shallow enough to be effectively cleaned at home.
What to Expect After the Procedure
Following a gingivectomy, it could take a few days to a few weeks to heal. During this time, you should take care with what you eat, sticking with mainly soft foods. You may notice the shape of your gums changes. You may also experience some sensitivity (if a root is exposed), but this can be managed with sensitivity toothpaste and will dissipate as your gums heal. You may note some minor pain, but over the counter pain medication should help.
Maintaining the Health of Your Mouth
It is important to maintain the health of your mouth after a gingivectomy to prevent new issues. Regular brushing and flossing are essential, as is regular dental cleanings and exams. Without proper cleaning, gum disease will return.
A gingivectomy is designed to help you heal from gum disease, and is often performed before the jawbone and supporting structures have started to weaken. If, however, your gum disease continues to progress even after a gingivectomy, you will need a different type of treatment to protect the health of your mouth and save your teeth.
If deep periodontal pockets are preventing you from being able to keep your teeth and gums healthy, you may be a candidate for a gingivectomy. Call Implant and Periodontal Wellness Center of Arizona today to learn more and schedule your consultation.