FAQs About Periodontal Surgery

Before Dental Surgery

Can I eat before my procedure?

When I had my wisdom teeth out, I was told not to eat before the appointment. What about for this surgery?

You will be given a local, not a general, anesthetic so eating before is ok. If you have been prescribed sedative medicines, a light meal shortly before your appointment is still ok. If you happen to be a diabetic, then it is essential that you have normal meals.

My normal meal includes several cups of coffee followed by a cigarette, is that ok?

Sorry, but that is not a good idea. Coffee will only make you more nervous. Tobacco products in any form should not be used at all on the day of and for as long after the day of surgery as possible. Nicotine is a potent constrictor of blood vessels, shutting off blood supply that is critical for wound healing. If you cannot resist the cravings then use a dermal patch (not nicotine gum) to sustain your addiction.

Why cant I just take my sedative pills at home and then drive quickly to my appointment?

Though it may be a while before you feel the effects of the sedative, absorption can occur quickly depending on your body’s response. The hour you spend here prior to your surgery will be a time to relax instead of a time being stressed from driving. Also, since you will not be driving yourself home, there will not be a need to retrieve your car on another day.

If I shouldn’t drive myself home, why cant I just take a cab?

You will still be under the effects of the sedative and may need assistance. You must be accompanied by a responsible adult who can be around for the next few hours after surgery.

I don’t like taking pills, so can I stop taking the antibiotics when I start feeling better?

This is not recommended. Antibiotics kill the susceptible bacteria quickly but other bacteria will not be eliminated for a few days. If you stop taking the antibiotic early, the resistant bacteria will multiply and any infection that develops will be more difficult to treat.

I’ve had Codeine, Vicoden, Percocet and Demerol before and they make me sick to my stomach. What else can I take to relieve pain?

This is a dilemma. All oral narcotics will cause some level of nausea, especially if taken on an empty stomach. So we always suggest that you take them with food and plenty of fluid. We also suggest that you use the Ibuprofen as your primary pain-reliever since it is a very effective and reliable pain killer and tends to cause less stomach upset.

Can I use the mouth rinse more than twice a day?

Twice a day is all you need since the effects of the rinse last for 12-14 hrs. Using the mouth rinse more does not increase its effectiveness. In fact, it may increase the side effects such as staining and canker sores.

After Surgery

When the numbness wears off, what do I do?

You may feel more discomfort at this time. Continue taking the Ibuprofen (Motrin) as prescribed. If you are feeling more discomfort than you are comfortable with, you can take the prescription pain-reliever. It is easier to prevent pain than to take it away. Do not wait until the pain is unbearable before you start taking the prescription pain-reliever.

Why are my tongue black and my teeth stained brown?

These are common side-effects of the antibacterial mouth rinse and no cause for concern. The darkness on your tongue will go away after you are able to perform your normal oral hygiene routine again, usually in 2-3 weeks after surgery. The staining on your teeth will be removed when Dr Hunt gives you a complimentary polish on your last post-operative visit.

I was feeling better a few days after my surgery, but now my teeth feel high and tender when I bite, my jaw aches and even my ear hurts. Whats happening?

A normal part of wound healing is swelling, so when the tissues around your teeth swell it will move the teeth slightly out of position. This usually starts 2-3 days after surgery and lasts about 2 weeks. Your bite reflex will sense this and you may unconsciously clench to reposition your teeth. If you already have the habit of clenching or grinding your teeth, this can become especially uncomfortable. It pushes your teeth back into swollen/tender areas, further bruising the surrounding tissue. This creates the feeling of bone bruise, a dull throbbing ache in the jaw above and below the wound. Muscle spasms occur, especially overnight, in the area of your cheek, temple, ear and even the back of your head. These aches are not easily relieved by any pain-relievers. Cramps are relieved by relaxation, stretching, massage and applying heat to stimulate circulation. Try these remedies before taking more pills.

After the dressing came off, my teeth were sensitive to cold. Why?

Tooth roots are normally sensitive to cold to some degree. The previously swollen gums and the dressing were insulation and kept the root from feeling the cold. Also, surgery can make the nerves sensitive for a few weeks.

I had surgery to get rid of my gum pockets. Will my gums grow back?

We did not actually remove gum tissue. It appears that you had more gum tissue before the surgery because your gums were swollen as a result of the bacterial infection in your gums. When your gums healed they shrunk back because there was no longer any infection or swelling. If gum tissue were to grow back all the way to its previous level then it would mean you have pockets again.

Why are there now black triangles between my teeth?

Now you can see where your periodontal disease caused bone loss. The gums are not being held up by the underlying bone. A space appeared where your pocket once was.

I had a gum graft and thought all my recession would be gone. What happened?

The main purpose of a gum graft is to build up more of the stronger gum tissue to protect the underlying bone to withstand further recession. Often we can achieve full root coverage but sometimes not. We are essentially trying to get new tissue that needs a blood supply to grow over an area (your tooth root) that has no blood supply. It is like trying to make grass grow over and cover your driveway.