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A gingivectomy is one of a number of types of gum surgery which usually involves removal of a small amount of gum tissue, which is called gingiva. A gingivectomy is also called periodontal flap surgery, and a periodontist is a dental specialist with an advanced knowledge and skill in gum disease.

Most of the time, a gingivectomy is performed to remove diseased gum tissue. Sometimes a minor gingivectomy is performed to allow for more space in the placement of a crown or implant. A gingivectomy can also be performed for cosmetic reasons if someone feels their gums are too prominent.

A gingivectomy is usually performed one quadrant (quarter of the mouth) at a time. So, a full gingivectomy may take up to 4 dental visits.

A local anesthetic is applied and one or more small incisions are made to allow part of the gum to be pulled back, like a flap. This allows the dentist to see the tooth and the bone as well as the surrounding gums. If gum tissue is removed, this is called gingival curettage. The dentist may also decide the tooth requires some type of dental work such as a filling.

The excess or diseased gum tissue is removed, the gum is sewn or sutured together, and a putty-type dressing is applied to cover the gum and prevent infection. Pain medication is usually given, and antibiotics can be prescribed if further infection is a concern. Healing can take a few weeks.

If gum disease is left unchecked, it will infiltrate the underlying bone. This is usually called periodontitis, which may require a tissue graft or bone graft to help correct.

If you think you have gum disease, don’t wait to see your dentist. If the disease is very advanced, a gingivectomy or other periodontal surgery techniques may not be enough to save your teeth.