You may need surgery for severe gum disease
(periodontitis) if it cannot be cured with
antibiotics or root planing and scaling. A flap
procedure cleans the
roots of a tooth and repairs bone damage caused by
gum disease. A gum specialist (periodontist) or an
oral surgeon often performs the procedure.
Before the procedure,
you will be given a
local anesthetic to numb the area where the doctor
will work on your gums.
The doctor will pull back a section of
your gums to clean the
roots of your teeth and repair damaged bone, if
needed. The gum flap will be sewn back into place and covered with gauze to
stop the bleeding.
Bone may be:
Smoothed and reshaped so that
plaque has fewer places to grow.
(grafted) with bone from another part of the body or
with man-made materials. The doctor may place a lining on the bone graft to
help the bone grow back. The lining may need to be removed later.
What To Expect After Surgery
Typically it takes only a few days to
recover from a flap procedure. Be sure to follow the home care instructions
that your dentist or oral surgeon gives you. If you have questions about your
instructions, call the dentist or surgeon. The following are general
suggestions to help speed recovery:
Take painkillers as prescribed.
After 24 hours, you can rinse your mouth gently with warm salt water several times a day
to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
Change gauze pads before they
become soaked with blood.
Relax after surgery. Strenuous physical
activity may increase bleeding.
Eat soft foods such as gelatin,
pudding, or light soup. Gradually add solid foods to your diet as the area
Do not lie flat. This may prolong bleeding. Prop up your
head with pillows.
Continue to carefully brush your teeth and
ice or cold pack to the outside of your mouth to help relieve pain and
Do not use sucking motions, such as when using a straw to
Do not smoke.
A few days after the procedure, your dentist will remove
Why It Is Done
The flap procedure is necessary when
severe gum disease (periodontitis) has damaged the bones that support your
How Well It Works
If you maintain good dental care
after the surgery, the flap procedure should allow you to clean your teeth and gums better. Your
gums should become pink and healthy again.
The roots of your teeth may become more
The contour or shape of your gums may change.
Gum surgery can introduce harmful bacteria into the
bloodstream. Gum tissue is also at risk of infection. You may need to take
antibiotics before and after surgery if you have a condition that puts you at
high risk for a severe infection or if infections are
particularly dangerous for you. You may need to take antibiotics if you:
Have certain heart problems that make
it dangerous for you to get a heart infection called
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.