Flap surgery can be described as the loosening of the gum from bone to expose and clean underlying tooth structures.
In advanced periodontal disease when scaling and root planing have been unsuccessful in eliminating the entire pocket of decay or when there has been bone loss that needs to be surgically corrected then a dentist may perform periodontal flap surgery.
In flap surgery under local anesthesia small incisions are made in the gum so that it can be lifted back to expose the tooth and bone. The entire area is carefully cleaned and all tarter and infected granulation tissue are removed and the bone is examined. Because periodontal disease causes bone loss often the bone will need to be re-contoured in order for the gum to heal properly.
When the procedure is done the gums are sutured in to place on top of the bone.
The entire flap procedure typically requires from 1 to 3 hours to perform with only two quadrants of the mouth being addressed in a single visit. The sutures will remain in place for approximately one week and a patient will likely be given a prescription for pain medication and antibiotics.
It is very important for you to keep your mouth as clean as possible while the surgical site is healing. This means you should brush and floss the rest of your mouth normally. If the surgical site is not covered by a periodontal pack (A type of dental ﾑbandﾖaid') you can use a toothbrush to gently remove plaque from the teeth. Mouth rinses containing chlorhexidine are commonly prescribed following periodontal surgery. Although these rinses do not remove plaque from the teeth they kill the bacteria and help your mouth heal. Post-surgical swelling is also possible and this can be minimized by applying an ice pack to the outside of your face in the treated area.
Initially after surgery there may be some bleeding swelling and risk of infection. Long term there is likely to be gum recession sensitivity to hot and cold and an increased risk of root cavities.