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Gingivectomy & Gingivoplasty

Gingivectomy is the removal of gum tissue (gingiva) by surgery. Gingivoplasty is a type of gum surgery used to reshape healthy gum tissue around teeth. Periodontists typically perform both types of surgery. These dentists specialize in treating gums and the other structures that support teeth. Gum tissue may need to be removed for two reasons: Gaps (pockets) have formed between the teeth and gums. This can trap bits of food, harbor colonies of bacteria, and make it difficult to keep the area clean. If the pockets involve only soft tissue, they can be removed by a gingivectomy (trimming of the gums).

There is too much gum tissue around the teeth. Some people don't like how this looks and want to have it removed. It also can make teeth and gums hard to keep clean. In severe cases, this condition can interfere with chewing and speech. Excess growth of gum tissue can be caused by certain medicines. Sometimes there is no apparent cause. Gingivoplasty often is done simply to make gums look better. They may have an unusual shape or may not be formed normally. The causes can include a person's genes, disease or trauma. Gingivoplasty reshapes the gums to make them look more natural. It often is done alone, but can be done during or after a gingivectomy. Gingivoplasty also can be done along with a gum graft. This type of surgery adds tissue to the gum line.

How It's Done
Both of these procedures usually are done with scalpels. They also can be done with electrosurgery or laser units. Your periodontist might use special tools that were designed for gingivectomies. They have angled blades to help them get around teeth. Before either procedure, you will receive a local anesthetic shot to numb your gums. A gingivectomy can take from a few minutes to more than an hour. The length of time depends on how much tissue is being removed. Gingivoplasties typically are done in a couple of minutes.

Follow-Up

After either procedure, a periodontal dressing will be placed on your gums to protect the wound for a week to 10 days. A periodontal dressing is soft and has the texture of modeling clay. During this time, you will need to follow a relatively soft diet and avoid spicy and crunchy foods. Your dentist might give you prescriptions for pain medicine and an antiseptic mouthwash. It is very important to keep your mouth clean while you are healing. You should not brush your teeth in the surgical area while the periodontal dressing is in place. You will be able to brush and floss the rest of your mouth. When the pack comes off, you can brush and floss normally, but gently. The healing tissues may bleed when you floss or brush right after the dressing is removed. Your gums will begin to look normal in three to four weeks. It can take two to three months for the tissue to heal completely.

Risks

There are no major risks to either procedure. Infection and prolonged bleeding may occur. However, both are unusual. The affected area might ooze blood for the first 24 to 48 hours. After that, it should not bleed much, if at all.

When To Call a Professional

Call the periodontist if: