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Gingivectomy for Gum Disease

Sometimes periodontal disease is too widespread to be effectively combated with less aggressive approaches such as therapeutic measures. In such cases, surgical measures may be required to halt the spread of periodontal disease and restore healthy function to your mouth. Periodontal disease is usually preventable by means of proper oral hygiene, but some people are more susceptible because of their overall health, lifestyle factors and choices such as smoking, genetic predisposition, or medications.

Therapeutic measures and preventative efforts are always tried first, when and where practical. Dr. De Andrade knows that surgical intervention may not always be the most desirable option where antibiotics, prescription mouthwashes and toothpastes, or less invasive measures such as root planing and subgingival scaling may solve the problem more effectively without the need for more aggressive measures. However, when periodontal disease becomes too severe, intervention is required to prevent the further spread of the disease to the teeth and underlying bone structures. This usually comes in the form of a gingivectomy.

A gingivectomy (gingiva, or gum, and -ectomy, removal), is literally a procedure to remove diseased gum tissue from the mouth in order to prevent periodontal disease from infiltrating the roots of the teeth and the jaws. When periodontal disease becomes severe, the gums pull away from the teeth to create gaps known as “pockets.” These pockets are prime breeding grounds for plaque, a colorless film that forms on the enamel of teeth, and the various bacteria that require plaque to survive and thrive. This form of intervention permits for deeper, proper cleaning of the subgingival tooth surfaces before cavities and other forms of disease breach the enamel of the tooth, killing it.

In a gingivectomy, the doctor will administer a local anesthetic to numb the area. A laser is then employed to cut away the diseased tissue, allowing for better visibility and cleaning of the exposed tooth surfaces. Once the procedure is complete, a type of chemical bandage in putty form will be applied to the area to help prevent damage from germs or food particles and aid healing.

In addition to following all preoperative and postoperative instructions, warnings, and directions, you should stick to a diet of soft foods and cool or tepid liquids (ie no very cold water or hot coffee or tea) until the gum tissue has had time to heal. This can take a few days to a few weeks before the gums are no longer sensitive. Gingivectomy is a last resort, for obvious reasons, but with proper aftercare and diligent oral hygiene, your gums should be restored to a healthy pink and a more natural gum line very quickly. However, chewing tobacco or smoking may undo all the benefit this procedure provides, so it would be wise to cease all tobacco usage to attain the maximum benefit from gingivectomy.

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