My dentist says I need surgery. I’m scared!

Don’t worry, we see lots of people who require some sort of minor surgery. Common reasons for treatment include inflamed or receding gums, removal of problem teeth, placement of dental implants and many others. Periodontists are specially trained in all of these procedures and will make sure that you are comfortable throughout your treatment.

But I’m so scared.

These things always sound worse than they really are. That’s because we need to make sure you understand the procedure, why it’s been recommended and what the benefits are, as well as the possible risks and complications that occasionally arise. We have to explain all of this before we start (and it’s difficult to describe the details of a surgical procedure without making it sound like a big deal). In most cases, receiving surgical treatment from a periodontist should feel no different than any other routine dental procedure.

Aren’t you going to cut my gums? That sounds really painful.

Don’t forget that you will be completely numb from the local anaesthetic during your procedure. Most surgical procedures do involve some careful movement of the gum, but you should not feel any discomfort. We always try to use the least invasive technique, using highly specialised microsurgical instruments and magnification to help us keep any incisions as precise as possible.

What about the stitches?

Okay, you may have some very small stitches help the gum heal. You will not feel this part of the procedure. In fact, modern specialist techniques involve tiny stitches that are hardly noticeable. This leads to a quicker recovery, with fewer post-operative symptoms than traditional oral surgery.

And how will I clean my teeth?

We will advise you how to look after your mouth, including how to keep it clean after surgery. Usually we will ask you to avoid brushing the surgical site for a short time to avoid disturbing the area during healing. If required, we will provide a mouthwash for you to use until you’re able to brush your teeth again.

Can I still eat?

You will still be able to eat. In fact, you will probably be able to eat a normal diet quite soon after surgery. Yoghurt, smoothies or ice-cream (just this once!) are all great options after surgical treatment. You should avoid any particularly hard, sticky or difficult foods.

Unless your dentist tells you otherwise, you should have a light meal prior to your appointment and don’t arrive fasting.

Right. What else do I need to know?

Try to plan the rest of your schedule accordingly. You might have some pain and swelling for a short time after surgery so you may want to avoid any particularly important work or social commitments for a few days. We often do surgical procedures towards the end of the working week so that patients can quietly recover at home during the weekend. Avoid any strenuous physical activity including sports or exercise immediately after your treatment.

Another good tip is to bring your headphones and something to listen to.

Headphones? Really?

Yes, bring your headphones! Surgical visits can take a little longer than other types of appointment, so its good to have something to keep you occupied. One of our patients prepared for her appointment in the same way that she prepared for a long haul flight . . . with her favourite socks, blanket and headphones!


Finally, please remember that we only perform surgery when absolutely necessary. We prefer non-surgical minimally invasive techniques whenever possible.

Please call your periodontist if you have any questions or if your dentist has told you that you may need surgery.

The Gum Gardener



We'd love to hear your question and we'll do our best to answer it in a future post on The Gum Garden.