Flap surgery is a procedure in which the gums are separated from the teeth and folded back temporarily to allow a dentist to reach the root of the tooth and the bone.
Flap surgery is used to treat gum disease (periodontitis). It may be recommended for people with moderate or advanced periodontitis, especially if the initial, non-surgical treatment (scaling and root planning) has not eliminated the gum infection.
Your periodontist or your dental hygienist will first remove all plaque and tartar (calculus) from around your teeth and make sure that your oral hygiene is good. Before flap surgery, your periodontist will determine whether your general health or your current medications allow for a surgical procedure to be carried out.
How It's Done
After numbing the area with a local anesthetic, the periodontist will use a scalpel to separate the gums from the teeth and then lift or fold them back in the form of a flap. This gives the periodontist direct access to the roots and bone supporting the teeth. Inflamed tissue is removed from between the teeth and from any holes (defects) in the bone. The periodontist will then do a procedure called scaling and root planing to clean plaque and tartar. If you have bone defects, your periodontist may eliminate them with a procedure called osseous recontouring, which smoothes the edges of the bone using files or rotating burs.
After these procedures are completed, the gums will be placed back against the teeth and anchored in place using stitches. Some periodontists use stitches that dissolve on their own, while others use stitches that have to be removed a week to 10 days after the surgery. Your periodontist may also cover the surgical site with an intraoral bandage known as a periodontal pack or dressing.