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Periodontal Disease: If You Need Surgery

If you have periodontal disease, you may need surgery to save one or more teeth. Surgery can help reduce the size of pockets that form between tooth and gum. It can also help regenerate bone and other tissue, or adjust the gumline. In addition, surgery can be used to reach tartar that can’t be removed with other techniques.

Your Surgical Experience

Periodontal surgery takes place in the dentist’s office. You will go home soon after it is completed. To control pain you’ll be given local anesthesia. You may also have a sedative (medication to help you relax). Be sure to arrange in advance for a ride home.

After Surgery

Hand holding gel ice pack in towel.

Your instructions right after surgery may include:

  • Resting for a day or two

  • Taking medication to control pain or prevent infection

  • Using ice or medication to control swelling

  • Not smoking

  • Special instructions for cleaning teeth

  • Caring for the surgical area or dressing

You’ll have a follow-up visit in 1-3 weeks to check how you’re healing. This is when stitches and any dressing (protective covering) are removed.

Risks and Complications

These vary depending on the surgery. In general, risks and complications of periodontal surgery may include any of the following:

  • Pain or discomfort

  • Increased tooth mobility or sensitivity (often temporary)

  • Swelling and bruising of the cheek

  • Numbness or tingling, due to temporary or permanent damage to nearby nerves

  • Exposure of more crown or root

When to Call Your Dentist

Call your dentist after surgery if any of the following occurs:

  • You have excessive bleeding or swelling.

  • The stitches come undone earlier than your surgeon has told you to expect.

  • Part or all of the dressing comes off or is uncomfortable.

  • You have persistent pain.

  • You have a fever over 100.4ºF.

  • You have questions about your condition or treatment.

 

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