What Conditions Require Gum Surgery?
There are different types of gum surgery depending on what you're experiencing and what exactly your periodontist is treating. Some of the most common conditions that require gum surgery include:
- Gum recession
If your gums are receding or pulling away from your teeth and exposing your roots, you have gum recession. The roots of your teeth don't have the same hard, protective enamel as the crowns of your teeth, so an exposed root can cause tooth sensitivity and is susceptible to tooth decay.
Some main causes of gum recession range from periodontal disease, brushing too hard, trauma from an injury or accident, ill-fitting dentures, genetics, and use of tobacco products. For brushing issues, your dental professional can show you how to brush without further damage. Periodontal disease is often treated with a non-surgical procedure called scaling and root planing. If you have ill-fitting dentures, they can be refitted for you.
More severe cases of gum recession may require a surgical procedure called a gum graft. Your periodontist will take tissue from another part of your mouth and attach it where your gums are receding. This surgery prevents further recession, reduces tooth sensitivity, and can improve the aesthetic of your smile.
- Gummy smile or uneven gums
If you have more gum tissue covering your teeth than you consider normal, you have what's called a gummy smile (also known as excessive gingival display if you want to sound like a professional). There are two surgery options available to you to remove tissue and show off more of your pearly white teeth. One is called a gingivectomy, where they surgically cut away a portion of your gumline. The other is called crown lengthening, in which they do the same thing but also remove some of the bone so that more of the tooth surface is above your gumline.
- A decayed or broken tooth below the gumline
If your tooth is damaged beneath your gumline, or if you don't have enough tooth above the gumline for a restoration, your periodontist may need to utilize a crown lengthening procedure to expose more of your tooth.
- Periodontal disease
Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria built up around your gumline and has turned into plaque (a soft, sticky, colorless film). According to statistics published in the Journal of Dental Research, nearly half of adults over 30 in the US have some form of gum disease. Left untreated, your tissue and bone will be destroyed by the plaque, and pockets can form around the roots of your teeth. The pockets may begin to collect more bacteria, your teeth may loosen, and your teeth could even fall out.
If you have deep pockets around your teeth from gum disease, your dental professional may refer you to a periodontist for a periodontal pocket reduction surgery. In this procedure, your gums will be folded back so they can deep clean the bacteria out of the pockets, then they will be sutured back into place, providing you with more of a chance that you can hold onto your natural teeth for the long run.