In general, wisdom teeth come through between the ages of 17 to 25. Unfortunately, by this time, the jaw has stopped growing. As a result, there is often not enough room for the wisdom teeth to erupt into, especially when it comes to the lower jaw. Moreover, the bone at the rear of the jaw is denser than it is in other areas. Ultimately, this leads to various dental issues, such as flap formation.
Dentists call the flap of skin that forms when a wisdom tooth struggles to erupt the dental operculum. When a wisdom tooth comes through normally, the gum tissue recedes. However, if a wisdom tooth lodges in the jawbone due to a lack of space, the operculum remains, at least partially, in place. Fortunately, a dentist can remove it.
Gum Flap Surgery Can Remove the Operculum
If your operculum has not receded, there is a chance that it will become infected and cause you considerable pain. This is because food particles and bacteria lodge beneath the flap, causing an infection to occur. Pericoronitis, the infection in question, causes the gum flap to become inflamed and will eventually lead to a gum abscess developing.
Infection doesn't always occur, but if it does and it leaves you struggling to eat or talk comfortably, you can talk to your dentist about gum flap surgery, or an operculectomy. During this surgery, the dentist removes the gum flap covering the partially erupted tooth. Once removed, within a few days, the wound should heal, allowing you to eat and talk without pain.
Gum Flap Surgery May Speed Up Wisdom Tooth Eruption
In some cases, removing the gum flap may also encourage the eruption of the partially erupted wisdom tooth. This is because wisdom teeth sometimes lodge in both bone and gum tissue, and removing one obstacle may clear the way for the remainder of the tooth to come through into its place in the gum line.
Unfortunately, the operculum sometimes grows back. If this happens, you can opt to have it removed again. In this case, it's a good idea to also consider removing the wisdom tooth too. Otherwise, the condition could return in future, causing more infection and pain in the process.
Are you suffering because of a painful gum flap? Talk to your dentist about removing the flap with gum flap surgery. Your dentist may be able to recommend a periodontist to perform the procedure.