Unless you’re a dentist, etymologist or a Latin whiz, you probably don’t know what a gingivectomy is. From a patient’s perspective, the word may seem a little daunting, but fortunately there is nothing to fear. Simply put, gingivectomy is the surgical process by which gum tissue (i.e., gingiva) is removed. It is used to treat gingivitis and related conditions. It is also used for cosmetic purposes, such as removing excess gum tissue. If you are curious to learn more about the procedure, this article will explain what you can expect from the procedure itself, how much it will cost, and how long the recovery period will last.
GINGIVECTOMY AND GUM DISEASE
Dentists typically recommend the procedure to patients with gum disease, often to prevent future degradation. When gum disease sets in, it creates openings at the base of the teeth. Once formed, these openings are the perfect nesting grounds for bacteria, plaque, and tartar. If these buildups become too excessive, much greater and more expensive damage can occur.
You may request that your dentist perform a gingivectomy for cosmetic reasons. Just be aware that your dentist may refuse if the risks are too high or if they do not specialize in the procedure. However, if the latter is the case they will likely be able to make a recommendation. Talk to your dentist first to make sure you know how an elective gingivectomy could affect your health.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The entire procedure can be completed in as little as 30 minutes, though sometimes they can take up to an hour. The length of time is entirely dependent on how much gum tissue the dentist has to remove. If the procedure only involves one or two teeth, you will likely only have to sit for a single session. However, if you have to undergo a major operation, you may have to attend several sessions over the course of a few weeks. The reason it takes so long is due to the fact that the treated areas need to heal before the dentist can move to another area.
Here’s how it works. First, the dentist will numb the area by injecting a local anesthetic into the gums. This will help ensure that everything is nice and numb throughout the procedure. Next, they will use a scalpel or laser to perform a soft tissue incision. While this is going on, the dentist will use a suction tool to keep saliva from accumulating. Once they are through cutting the problematic tissue, they will use a laser to remove any extra tissue. Finally, the dentist will apply a putty-like substance and cover it with bandages to ensure your gums are able to heal properly.
LASER VS SCALPEL
Laser gingivectomies have become much more common due to technological advances, which have made laser technology much cheaper and simpler to use. Compared to scalpels, lasers are extremely precise and immediately cauterize the wounds thanks to their inherent heat. As an added bonus, this results in a much lower risk of infection.
Unfortunately, laser gingivectomies cost more and require extra training than standard scalpel procedures, so your dentist may opt for a scalpel gingivectomy if they do not have the right equipment or are unable to perform the procedure due to lack of training. Additionally, some health insurance plans do not cover laser gingivectomies, so be sure to contact your insurance provider prior to scheduling the procedure.
Recovering from a gingivectomy is usually a pretty quick process. Dentists typically use a local anesthesia during the procedure, so you should be able to drive yourself home immediately. You may not initially feel pain; however, it will become sharper once the anesthesia wears off. Fortunately, you can combat any unpleasant sensations with a little acetaminophen or ibuprofen. You may also notice that your gums are bleeding. If this is the case, just be diligent about replacing bandages until the bleeding stops. All in all, any soreness should subside within a week. If you notice anything persisting past that point, contact your dentist.
If you pay for the procedure out of pocket, expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $300 for each tooth. If you have dental insurance, your plan likely covers gingivectomies as long as the procedure is not elected for cosmetic purposes.
If you are looking to schedule a gingivectomy or still have questions about the procedure, give Andrew M. Satlin, DDS a call today. He and his team have built a solid reputation founded on years of excellent service and are more than ready to address any questions or concerns you may have.