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Gingivoplasty for Periodontitis: What to Know

by Andre Daniels

Periodontal disease is a highly prevalent dental issue affecting one in every two Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It occurs when bacteria infect the gums and cause inflammation. At advanced stages the infection causes loss of the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth, called the periodontium. In some cases surgical intervention is needed to repair and restore this important structure. Surgery helps eliminate pockets between the gum and tooth and regenerate a healthy gum line. Gingivoplasty is one such surgery, used to reduce periodontal pockets. If your dentist has recommended this surgery, here's what you need to know.

Why Your Dentist Recommends Gingivoplasty

Our mouths are full of bacteria, making oral hygiene crucial. Each day a bacterial bio-film called plaque builds up around your teeth. The longer it's there, the more it hardens into a calcified deposit called tartar. When plaque and tartar remain unabated, the bacteria spread below the gum-line and breakdown the soft tissue that holds your teeth in place. This process is called periodontitis. It causes gums to pull away from the gum line and form pockets. Dentists often recommend gingivoplasty when the periodontal pockets reach 3 to 5 millimeters in size.

How Gingivoplasty Is Performed

Gingivoplasty is an outpatient procedure that does not require general anesthesia. Your dentist will numb your gums using a local anesthetic so that you don't experience pain during the surgery. Depending on a few factors, your dentist may use either scalpels or a laser which emits a concentrated beam of energy to remove soft tissue and reshape your gums. It's helpful to be aware that using a laser reduces damage and speeds up healing time. Your dentist may also use specially angled tool to make it easier to navigate around each tooth. The time the procedure takes varies; extensive reshaping often takes about an hour.

Post-Surgical Care

You can expect to have a special dressing applied to cover and protect your gums while they heal. You'll need to keep this in place for about seven to 10 days following your procedure. During this time, it's also necessary to make some minor changes to your diet to prevent damage and assist healing. Avoid nuts, seeds and crunchy foods during this period. Your dentist will likely recommend that you adhere to a soft diet. This means that you'll need to stick to foods that are soft in consistency and bland in flavor.

For more information about periodontal care, read more here.