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In its earliest stages, gum disease or gingivitis, can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as bad breath and swollen gums. But if left untreated, it can progress into periodontitis. This more advanced stage can increase your risk of tooth loss, bone recession, and systemic diseases, including heart disease.

If you have advanced periodontal disease that cannot be treated with scaling and root planing alone, Dr. John Rink may recommend gingival flap surgery. This procedure allows Dr. Rink to access and remove bacteria further down on your tooth roots. To make this process more comfortable, we offer various sedation options including laughing gas and oral medication at our Charleston, SC, practice.

We can gently treat periodontal disease to improve your oral health. To learn more about treating and preventing periodontal disease, contact our Charleston office serving Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach.

Treating Periodontal Disease

Dr. Rink

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Candidates for Gingival Flap Surgery

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of Americans have gum disease. Dr. Rink will evaluate your level of gum disease during your consultation. If he determines that scaling and root planing is no longer an effective method of managing your condition, he may recommend gingival flap surgery. The procedure is typically reserved for patients with moderate to advanced periodontal disease who do not respond to initial, more conservative therapies.

Person getting treated

What to Expect During the Procedure

Dr. Rink and his team try to make gum flap surgery as comfortable as possible and will guide you through the treatment from start to finish.


Dr. Rink will begin by removing plaque and tartar buildup from the surfaces of your teeth using specialized tools. Sedation, such as nitrous oxide, can make your appointment much more comfortable.


To reduce any physical discomfort during your treatment, Dr. Rink will first numb the treatment area with a local anesthetic. If you suffer from dental phobia or if you have difficulty sitting still for long periods of time, he may also recommend additional sedation. We offer two methods of sedation at our office: inhaled sedation or oral sedation. Where the former is fast-acting, the latter offers a deeper level of relaxation.


During the procedure, Dr. Rink will create incisions in your gums with a small scalpel and gently fold the tissue back to expose the underlying tooth structure. This allows Dr. Rink to remove bacteria from deep down in your roots. Once the bacteria has been removed with specialized tools, Dr. Rink will suture the gums back in place.

Recovering from Surgery

Because a gingival flap procedure is a surgical treatment, it is normal to experience some discomfort afterward. To alleviate pain, Dr. Rink may prescribe pain medication. By removing plaque and tartar underneath your gum line, the surgery can encourage your gum tissue to reattach to your roots, reducing the depth and appearance of gum pockets.

Following your procedure, it is important to keep your mouth very clean. Gently brush the area to remove any bacteria. If you experience any swelling, you can apply an ice pack to the outside of your cheek. In most cases, Dr. Rink will see you for a follow-up appointment approximately one week later to evaluate your progress.

Benefits of Gingival Flap Surgery

For patients with advanced gum disease, a gingival flap surgery offers several benefits. The procedure can:

  • Improve the look of your smile: By removing plaque and tartar underneath your gum line, the surgery can encourage your gum tissue to reattach to your roots, reducing the depth and appearance of gum pockets.
  • Reduce the risk of serious illness: Gum disease has been linked to heart disease and other systemic diseases such as cancer and respiratory disease. Professional gum disease treatment can reduce the risk of these diseases and promote your overall health.
  • Prevent bone or tooth loss: When left untreated, advanced periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and bone loss. Gingival flap surgery can save your teeth and prevent you from needing restorative procedures such as dental implants or bone grafting.

Find Out Whether Surgery Can Help You

At the Charleston Center for Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry, Dr. Rink can evaluate your unique case and determine whether gingival flap surgery can help you improve the health and look of your smile. Undergoing surgical treatment now can save you time and money on costly restorative procedures in the future. To get evaluated for gum disease, call our office at (843) 242-0284 or request an appointment online.

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