Periodontitis (gum disease) is not something to be taken lightly, as the effects can be disastrous. This is because, at this stage, the ligaments and bone tissue that surround them are being destroyed.
There’s the added threat of the victim losing their teeth. Thus, whenever the dentist discovers that the disease cannot be controlled with non-surgical treatments, the patient is advised to undergo periodontal flap surgery.
Flap surgery is the foremost technique applied in the field of Dentistry for the repair and treatment of periodontal pockets. These pockets are the areas below the gum line where gum tissue has detached from the teeth, creating an unhealthy space for harmful bacteria to thrive.
The bacteria, in turn, cause inflammation of the tissues, which leads to sensitivity, bleeding, and pain. If allowed to continue unchecked, the bacteria may cause a host of problems including gum disease, tooth loss, loss of the tooth-supporting bone structure, and even systemic problems.
The first step in combating periodontal pockets is usually via cleaning and scaling (root debridement) with a manual or ultrasonic instrument. Where this method proves to be ineffective, periodontal surgery is considered most effective.
It must be noted that Flap surgery is not a cure for periodontal disease. However, it has the benefit of creating a surrounding that makes it easier for the patient to maintain their periodontal health. And in cases where the patient is prone to gum disease, proper professional treatment and regular care at home is sufficient to keep the patient’s teeth healthy for as long as possible.
The Goals of Flap Surgery
The major focus of the flap surgery is the elimination or reduction of the pocket, and to do that, a flap-like incision is made in the gum tissue. Thus, it permits the surgeon to remove the diseased tissue from inside the pocket in order to access the surface of the teeth for an all-around cleaning. Thereby, it eliminates harmful plaque and calculus (tartar). Afterward, the “flap” is closed, completely sealing the area and beginning a rapid healing process.
The surgery is also geared towards aiding the regeneration of periodontal ligament and bone tissue that may have been lost to the disease. For this to be achieved, a variety of techniques may be used.
These techniques include high-tech methods of bone grafting and growth factors, chemicals that help restore the gums. The techniques aid in restoring the gums to their normal form and function, as well as to promote the healthy and secure anchoring of the teeth.
The Flap Surgery Procedure
As expected, flap surgery is performed under local anesthesia, and where necessary, it is accompanied by oral anti-anxiety medications (it may be performed under intravenous conscious sedation).
Upon the anesthesia, a small incision is made to separate the gums from the teeth; the outer gum tissue is folded back gently, exposing the roots, ligaments, and bone tissue.
Subsequently, the next step would include the removal of the inflamed gum tissue, and a cleaning of the tooth’s roots (if deemed necessary, the area may also be treated with antibiotics or other medications).
Where there are bone defects, they may be repaired with grafting material. More so, proper regeneration of the periodontal ligament may be encouraged by physical (barrier membranes) and chemical (growth factors) methods. The cut is closed, and the process is completed.
This procedure has a good track record as it has been recorded over the years to have provided a positive, long-lasting solution to the problem of periodontitis. Patients are, however, advised to ensure that the surgeon who operates on them has knowledge and experience on the subject.