Periodontal diseases affect a significant number of adults around the world. The main cause of periodontal disease or gum disease is bacteria that collects and multiplies in the mouth and infects the gum tissue leading to damage to periodontal structures supporting the teeth (swelling, redness and inflammation of gum tissue, loss of bone around teeth, etc.).

Periodontal surgery is a common procedure used to treat periodontal disease. It is qualified as a plastic surgical procedure aiming to reshape and restore function to damaged or lost periodontal structures.

During periodontal surgery, deformities and tissue loss created by gum disease are treated. Diseased tissue caused by the disease process is eliminated, and soft tissue attached to the teeth is reconstructed and regenerated. Through periodontal surgery, the life expectancy of teeth is increased.

Before the actual surgical treatment, an initial therapy is set in motion to control the inflammation or infection caused by dental plaque. This includes instructing patients to form new oral hygiene practices, cleaning teeth by removing plaque or tartar, and stabilising any loose teeth. Sometimes patients will be prescribed antibiotics to clear any infection caused by pathogenic bacteria.

The periodontal surgery itself comprises several plastic surgical procedures, which are for either repairing soft tissue or hard tissue, or replacing missing teeth with dental implants. The procedure is carried out by a periodontal surgeon or a general dentist trained in periodontal surgery, and includes pocket reduction procedures, regenerative procedures of bone and gum tissue, crown lengthening to remove gum overgrowth, and soft tissue grafts to grow new tissue where it is needed.

Most of these procedures require local anaesthesia, sometimes administered in combination with oral or intravenous sedation medication. During surgery, diseased periodontal pockets are eliminated, attachment is regenerated and periodontal function, form and aesthetics are re-established. After the procedure, maintenance care and good oral hygiene will ensure that teeth are kept for a longer period.

Patients may experience mild to moderate discomfort for a couple of days after the surgery. This can be managed with the help of anti-inflammatory and analgesics such as Ibuprofen or Celebrex. The dentist may also prescribe antibiotics and antibiotic rinses. Patients are advised to refrain from intense physical activity for a few days in order to avoid any bleeding. Teeth sensitivity to cold can also appear, but it will resolve over time.

Smoking and alcohol consumption can interfere with the healing process, thus, patients are advised to avoid these. Certain medication can affect the surgical procedure itself, causing bleeding to be harder to stop. Some cardiovascular medication can cause gum overgrowth, therefore, it is important that patients discuss with their dentist all information regarding their medical history and any medication that they are on.

Periodontal diseases are preventable and developing a daily routine that involves brushing after meals, flossing regularly, using mouthwash to prevent the formation of plaque and tartar, and going to the dentist regularly can significantly decrease the risk of gum disease. Leading a healthy lifestyle and taking conscious care of your teeth will minimise the chances for you to develop gum diseases.