What You Need to Know About Gum Surgery

What you need to know about gum surgery.

Gum disease can ruin your health and your smile.

I have upper and lower gum recession.  That means that the gum tissue around my teeth, both uppers and lowers, is receding and exposing the root of the tooth.  This makes me more vulnerable to gum disease, and as I age, more vulnerable to tooth damage and loss.

My situation is rather unique in that I have never had gum disease, never had gingivitis or a periodontal disease.  My recession is idiopathic–which means there is no recognizable cause for it.  There are theories that wearing braces on your teeth for a long time could cause it.  I will never know for sure.

A periodontist, a dentist who specializes in caring for the structures supporting and surrounding your teeth, has been measuring my recession for a number of years.  I have to use a soft toothbrush and a toothpaste like Rembrandt that is gentle on the gums.  Year by year the recession was increasing so that I finally decided to have the surgery on the upper gums first.

The procedure is as follows: you can eat a light breakfast and you must take a major dose of an antibiotic one hour before.  In the dental chair, you lay way back so that the dentist can work on your mouth with greater ease.  He and his technician wear sterile gloves and masks.  The gum area is swabbed with a numbing gel and then the dentist, who is skilled in the anatomy of the nerves and blood vessels of your mouth, injects the area with Novocain so that I truly did not feel any pain during the 2 hours and 30 minute procedure.  I did get tired of lying there with someone working in my mouth!  I did feel like I had a swollen nose and upper lip.  The dentist cut into the gum tissue, creating a pocket where implant tissue that is specially treated and prepared, was inserted.  This tissue will grow and extend my receding and thinning tissue.  When the process was completed, the dentist had amazingly created a new line of tissue that covered the tops of my teeth where before there had been exposed tooth enamel.

Post operatively, I had to take steroid meds for six days as well as an antibiotic.  I had to rinse my mouth frequently with warm salt water and I will not be able to brush my front upper teeth for three mouths while the implants take hold.  I can brush my lower teeth and will rinse with a prescription rinse to keep the upper enamel healthy.  I did have some residual pain after the Novocain wore off, but not enough to make me want to take a heavy-duty pain killer.  I did have swelling and now have some bruising around my mouth.  That’s a lot of activity on soft tissue for one day!

Of course after any dental surgery, you have to maintain a soft diet for a while.  There are sutures in my gums which will not come out for a while.  This helps maintain the implants, assuring that the surgery will be a success.

Bottom line: it was easy.  And I’m sure when I am completely healed I’ll have an even better smile.

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