Periodontal disease is a serious dental health concern affecting thousands of adult patients; tooth and gum disease especially affects older adults whose oral health has become more vulnerable over time.  As teeth wear down as a result of bruxism (teeth grinding), tooth decay, or simple use, the outer enamel layer of a tooth becomes more fragile. The gums also go though changes that affect their ability to resist infection and disease.  Oral tissue in general becomes softer and weaker as a person ages, which means that gums are more likely to be scratched or cut.  All these factors contribute to the likelihood that a person will develop some form of tooth or gum disease.

Depending on the particular periodontal complaint and how advanced the condition is, a dentist or periodontist may recommend a gingivectomy.  

What is a Gingivectomy?

A gingivectomy is a form of dental surgery that removes and reshapes portions of gum tissue that have become loose gum tissue caused by advanced stages of periodontal disease. As gum disease advances, gum tissue surrounding teeth becomes soft and loose making it more prone to damage and infection. The excess gum tissue gradually forms a pocket around the base of a tooth, which creates a space where tooth decay and other forms of disease can develop. The gingivectomy procedure removes the excess gum tissue to return the mouth to a more healthy state.

The Treatment 

Before a gingivectomy begins, the periodontist or oral surgeon will administer an injection of anesthetic (numbing) agent to the surgery site. Once the anesthetic injection has taken full effect, the work can begin. First, small incisions are made to the periodontal tissue that will be removed.  When the diseased tissue has been fully cut, then it is carefully removed from the mouth.  The procedure ends with the application of a soft substance similar to putty.  This putty serves as a bandage and protects the exposed gums while they heal.

After the Procedure

After the treatment is complete, the patient will have to carefully avoid drinking any hot liquids or eating food that is difficult to chew. Periodontists recommend that patients eat only soft foods and drink beverages that are room temperature or only slightly warm during the healing process.  Keeping the mouth clean is a central part of the healing process.  Because normal brushing and flossing can damage the surgery site, it is recommended that patients clean the rest of their mouth as usual while taking care to avoid the healing gums.  Oral tissue heals quickly so the gums should be entirely healed within just a few weeks.  At this point normal brushing and flossing can resume, though gently at first. Be sure to follow any additional aftercare instructions given to you by Dr. Silverstein and Dr. Parker.

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