Periodontitis is a gum disease that affects millions of Americans. The disease causes the gums in your mouth to become sore and inflamed, and when the body works to fight the disease, your gums can be adversely affected. Your dentist may refer you to a periodontists to have a specialist treat the disease. One treatment being used to address severe periodontitis is called flap surgery. Flap surgery is a procedure periodontists use to remove the plaque and tartar that can cause gum damage and tooth loss. Here is how flap surgery works.
The periodontist will numb the area they will be performing the flap surgery. The surgery is typically performed on a couple of teeth at a time to limit the amount of soreness in your mouth while you heal.
Expose Periodontal Pocket
The periodontist needs to get to the periodontal pockets to remove the plaque bacteria and tartar that form along the root structure of your teeth. A scalpel is used to cut two vertical incisions on both sides of the tooth they are working on. The gums are then folded back (which forms a "flap") to expose the periodontal pocket.
Clean the Pockets
A periodontist will then use a hand-held scalar, an ultrasonic scalar, or a combination of both the scrape the plaque and tartar off of your teeth all the way down to your jaw bone. The periodontist will check the condition of your gum tissue and remove any that is infected or dying.
The periodontist will also be looking for sunken areas on the surface of your teeth caused by the bone loss that often accompanies the gum damage when you have periodontitis. They will grind down any irregular surfaces so the gums adhere to the sides of your teeth better once the gums heal after surgery. This also helps control your periodontal disease by limiting the places the plaque and tartar like to hide in.
Closing the Incisions
The periodontist will fold the gum flap back into place and use sutures to hold everything together while the gums heal. Many periodontists like to use dissolvable sutures that will melt away before your next office visit.
Your teeth and gums will be healthier and cleaner after the procedure is done, and you should be able to avoid further damage and tooth loss that typically comes with advanced periodontal disease. If you have red, swollen, and bleeding gums, you should see a dentist right away to find out if you have the disease and to start a treatment plan that could save your gums and teeth.