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Gum Surgery

givingsgivings Registered User Posts: 672 Member
edited March 2010 in Parent Cafe
My 19-year-old daughter went in for her 6-month dental checkup. I was finally able to exhale thinking that, after three years and two "phases" of orthodontics which included a painful Herbst appliance followed up by her wisdom teeth extraction last August, we are DONE.

Not so! says our dentist. Dentist points to the gum tissue around her bottom teeth. I peer into her mouth. Everything looks fine to me. But dentist says: This gum is so thin and fragile! She will need to see a periodontist, I'm told, for evaluation of gingival recession. They will probably need to graft some gum tissue from the roof of her mouth. And what if she doesn't, I ask. "Then her teeth will fall out."

I am told that it has nothing to do with her hygiene or brushing methods. She simply has thin, fragile gum tissue which, by the way, is fairly common with the type of orthodontic work she has.

I am given a card for a local periodontist and cautioned to "not wait" to make my appointment since Spring Break is coming up and he books up quickly for the summer.

Of course, if I visit the periodontist I'm fairly certain he will say she needs gum surgery, since that's how he makes a living. Does ANYONE have experience with teenagers and gum surgery? Or waiting for a few years before having the gum surgery? I don't want to put her through this if I really don't have to.
Post edited by givings on

Replies to: Gum Surgery

  • Nrdsb4Nrdsb4 Registered User Posts: 14,951 Senior Member
    My best friend had extensive gum surgery (sounds similar to what he's describing) in junior high. It had nothing to do with hygiene, either. Also, she had just finished an extensive course of orthodontics.

    You could always get a second opinion after you see the oral surgeon. But it's not a given that he will advocate surgery regardless of whether or not it is medically indicated simply because that's how he makes his living. That would be unethical. In fact, I recently took my daughter in for an oral surgery consult and the surgeon sent us on our way, saying it wasn't necessary. Ask around and get the name of an oral surgeon who is respected in your area and if you get the same response from both doctors, then you have some good information to consider.
  • BunsenBurnerBunsenBurner Registered User Posts: 33,255 Senior Member
    I had gum surgery because the gumline next to the missing tooth was sagging badly. No big problems. The dentist used some tissue from the roof of my mouth, and everything healed quickly (it did feel like I had a pizza burn for a couple of days).
  • BCEagle91BCEagle91 Registered User Posts: 22,762 Senior Member
    Dental topics make me cringe.
  • tonerangertoneranger Registered User Posts: 3,723 Senior Member
    Get a second opinion. I was told I needed gum surgery 20 years ago. Doing just fine without it. Don't go to a perio for the second opinion...they make their money by doing gum surgery. Ask your friends for a general dentist referral. Good luck!
  • givingsgivings Registered User Posts: 672 Member
    The periodontist charges up to $220 for an evaluation/consult (receptionist said more likely in the $150-$175 range) so I'm not inclined to get second/third opinions.

    Plus, I called our insurance company and was told this might fall under the category of "cosmetic" (???) which means no coverage.
  • tonerangertoneranger Registered User Posts: 3,723 Senior Member
    Don't go to a perio for the second opinion. Perio dentists do surgery...you won't get a unbiased opinion. Go to a general dentist. Sounds expensive. Potentially painful. IMO...it's worth the money to see if it's really necessary.
  • DocTDocT Registered User Posts: 7,279 Senior Member
    "Dental topics make me cringe. "

    When I go to the dentist, everybody has a big smile. I'm surprised they're not high fiving!
  • momlovemomlove Registered User Posts: 498 Member
    I'm surprised the consult is $220; that seems high based on my experience. Also, I'm surprised that this would be considered cosmetic surgery. Here is my very recent experience.

    My young teen daughter just got through having her excess gum tissue trimmed (it's called a gingivectomy). The consult was $64, and was not covered by dental insurance, as we only get 2 covered visits for dental per year. However, the gum surgery was covered by our health insurance. Apparently, excess gum tissue makes it harder to keep the teeth clean, which can lead to plaque buildup, gingivitis and eventually surgery on the gums. The surgery was about $700 and we had to pay half of that. The surgeon expected a lot of pain for a couple of days, due to how extensive the surgery was, but with Advil she never had very bad pain at all. The mouth heals quickly.

    I would not assume that the periodontist would do unnecessary surgery. As someone else on this thread said, that would be unethical. However, I did put my daughter's periodontists' feet to the fire to be sure I was comfortable that she needed the surgery. Also, if I wouldn't have trusted him I would have gotten someone else.

    BCEagle91, you might not want to read this: The periodontist has indicated that she has excess bone growth under both her top and bottom gum tissues. After she's done growing he wants to peel back her gums, 'scrape down' the excess bone growth, and put her gums back. This would be purely cosmetic. Even though she obviously has some extra gum tissue on the top and bottom above and below her teeth, I'm not jumping into that surgery before we do a lot of research, etc.
  • BunsenBurnerBunsenBurner Registered User Posts: 33,255 Senior Member
    Plus, I called our insurance company and was told this might fall under the category of "cosmetic" (???) which means no coverage.

    My dental insurance did not cover my gum surgery (it was considered a "non-dental" procedure), however, my medical insurance covered it in full. So check with your medical insurance if they cover it.
  • givingsgivings Registered User Posts: 672 Member
    I would be thrilled with a $64 consult. I wonder why it's more in our area. Every dental-type consult we've done (orthodontist, oral surgeon, etc.) for both kids ranged $199 - $250.

    momlove, that really does sound painful for your D...sorry to hear she's not done. But I will look into the health insurance coverage angle for our's, although I'm not optimistic.
  • BCEagle91BCEagle91 Registered User Posts: 22,762 Senior Member
    My son needs a round of orthodontics. He didn't have them when he was younger due to other health problems. He'll probably need four teeth removed as he has a massive crowding problem. I think that this stuff is easier (though longer) than the gum surgery stuff. I'm just wondering if orthodontics contributes to the gum problems in the short run.
  • FauxNomFauxNom Registered User Posts: 1,220 Senior Member
    My D had to have a gum transplant before she started ortho, and even for an 8-year-old, it wasn't all that bad in terms of recovery and pain. Seemed pretty routine, and was covered by our dental insurance.
  • Nrdsb4Nrdsb4 Registered User Posts: 14,951 Senior Member
    Dental topics make me cringe.

    Honestly, me too. When I'm at the dentist and I hear the drill going in the other room, I almost have a heart attack. Even a cleaning is torture for me as I have really sensitive teeth. My husband loves getting his teeth cleaned. I just cannot fathom that...
  • somemomsomemom Registered User Posts: 10,512 Senior Member
    There are ethical and honest people in all business and there are less than ideal people in all businesses. 20+ years ago we moved 500 miles. I asked my lifelong dentist to tell me exactly what I needed done- 3 things. I went to 3 dentists in the new town, 2 said more than 10 things needed to be done. I saw these as fund raisers or at the very least overly aggressive treatment recommendations!

    Within a couple of years neither of those guys were in business in that town any longer, so people seemed to learn their style and not care for it. Even if it is not actually unethical, there are different levels of assertive/aggressive treatment.

    Also, it seems like gum surgery is quite the new fad thing over the past 20 years; never heard about it when I was a kid, but when my kids were doing phase I ortho, so many other kids were having gum grafts etc.
  • somemomsomemom Registered User Posts: 10,512 Senior Member
    Nrd- I am with you there; I used to love having my teeth cleaned and polished as a young person, then I got migraines for a few years and now I despise it!
This discussion has been closed.