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When is surgery needed for gum disease?

When periodontal (gum) pockets do not heal after scaling and root planning, surgery may be needed to better remove inflamed tissues and reduce the damage to the bone that has formed around the teeth. As the pockets enlarge, they provide a greater place for bacteria to live and attack the bone and tissue. Surgery allows the dentist to access hard-to-reach areas under the gum and along the roots where tartar and plaque have accumulated. Eliminating this bacterial stronghold and regenerating bone and tissue help to reduce pockets and repair damage caused by the progressing disease.

Your dentist may recommend additional procedures. Bone surgery, including bone grafts, is used to rebuild or reshape bone destroyed by periodontal disease. Membranes (filters), bone grafts or tissue-stimulating proteins may be used to encourage your body's natural ability to regenerate bone and tissue.


If excessive gum tissue has been lost, a soft-tissue graft (gum graft) may be performed. A soft-tissue graft can reduce further gum recession and bone loss. Soft-tissue grafts can be used to cover roots or develop gum tissue where excessive gingival recession has occurred. During this procedure, gum tissue is taken from your palate or another donor source to cover the exposed root. This can be done for one tooth or several teeth to even your gum line and reduce sensitivity.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.