Operculectomy – Overview
Operculectomy is a minor surgical procedure which involves the removal of the operculum, i.e. the flap of gum that covers a partially erupted tooth.
The procedure is carried out to treat pericoronitis which is characterized by inflammation and pain of the operculum.
Pericoronitis is most common among young adults (age 15 -26) when the wisdom tooth is starting to erupt.
Indications for Operculectomy
Operculectomy may be medically approved in the case where the operculum is severely infected and other conservative measures such as improved oral hygiene have not been effective.
Symptoms of acute pericoronitis include swelling of the gum tissue, fever, and accumulation of pus in the affected area. If left untreated, the disease can also cause other systemic complications such as swollen lymph nodes, weakness, and general malaise. The pain may also travel to other parts of the face, such as the ear, jaw, and the floor of the mouth. It can also cause pain in the throat. Extreme cases of acute pericoronitis may even affect diet, as the patient may find it difficult to chew food or even open their mouth.
The affected tooth may also be extracted if the tooth eruption has been impeded. Removal of the associated tooth will eliminate the plaque stagnation area, and thus eliminate any further episodes of pericoronitis.
Operculectomy is a relatively simple and safe procedure with good success rates. Patients usually achieve immediate relief from pain and discomfort.
Usually, operculectomy is done with a surgical scalpel, electrocautery, with lasers or, historically, with caustic agents (trichloracetic acid). The patient is administered local anesthesia to numb the area and the dentist proceeds to remove the operculum with a surgical scalpel.
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with operculectomy. General risks associated with any type of surgery such as anesthetic risk, bleeding, infection and wound healing problems are all still possible.
Also, it is possible that the operculum may grow back and the operculectomy may need to be repeated.
The total cost for operculectomy depends on a lot of factors such as the anesthetic fee, private hospital fee, private operating facility fee, extent of surgery required. The total cost of the procedure is around $50 – $250 per tooth.