When gum disease has advanced beyond the initial stage, periodontal surgery is often recommended to effectively remove bacteria and tartar from around the teeth, reduce gingival pocket depth, restore lost tissue as possible and halt the disease process. Untreated gum disease is a progressive condition, which will continue to compromise the appearance of one’s smile, dental health, oral function and overall well being if the appropriate measures are not taken.

With proper surgical treatment and maintenance care, the chances of tooth loss, further damage to the bone and soft tissues supporting the teeth, and complications from health problems that are linked to periodontal disease can be decreased.

Gum disease is typically the result of inadequate or ineffective oral hygiene practices that lead to the accumulation of dental plaque, which is sticky film that is colonized by oral bacteria. The harmful bacteria and the products they produce provoke a defensive, inflammatory response in the gums. When this inflammation is not resolved, tissue damage ensues and spaces between the gums and teeth that are known as periodontal pockets develop. As the periodontal pockets deepen, the bacteria become more difficult to remove and the gaps between the surface of the teeth and gums get larger. When pocket depth increases to the point of being beyond the reach of deep cleanings and other conservative methods of care (5mm or more), gum surgery to clean and treat the damage to gums and underlying bone is recommended.

By performing pocket reduction surgery the following is accomplished:

  • Sub-gingival bacteria beneath the gums and from the surfaces of the roots of the teeth is removed
  • Damage to the underlying bone is halted and affected bone is re-contoured
  • Effective oral hygiene to clean the teeth and gums is made easier

While a surgical procedure known as flap surgery during which the tissue is surgically reflected away from the teeth and bone so that the area can be treated before the tissue is sutured back into place, is typically performed, some practitioners are now using soft tissue laser procedures to reduce pocket depth.

Crown Lengthening

A crown lengthening is a common procedure that is routinely performed to re-contour gum tissue and bone as needed around with the intent of making more tooth structure available for the placement of a dental crown or dental bridge. This is often the case when a tooth is decayed or otherwise damaged below the gum line.

Alternatively, a crown lengthening procedure can also be performed for reasons that are purely aesthetic to reduce the appearance of a “gummy smile” when too much of the gums and far too little tooth structure is displayed when smiling. It can be performed on a single tooth to make the gum line appear even with the other teeth or on several teeth to improve a smile’s overall appearance.

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