Incision and Wound Closure

Posted August 2, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 3 min read

One should have adequate knowledge on regional anatomy and treatment plan before making an incision. Atraumatic management of the soft tissues favors rapid and uncomplicated healing which can lead to discomfort and many more problems.


  • Flap design and surgical exposure should be planned before initial incision is made depending on the case.

  • When making an incision, the dental surgeon should start posteriorly, working towards the front of the flap and it must be large enough to allow the surgeon to visualize the ridge and eventually the crest defects.

  • Small flap causes difficulty for the surgeon and tension on the flap, resulting in excessive tissue trauma which is difficult to manage.

  • For sulcular incisions, the blade is placed vertically into the gingival sulcus, following the shape of the tooth, keeping the sharp edge of the blade against the tooth surface to prevent unnecessary damage to gingival flap.

  • The incision can be crestal or at a distance in the labial fold.

  • Presence of keratinized tissue both labially and palatally should ideally be achieved.

Flap reflection and protection

  • Flap reflection begins with the papillae

  • These should be turned out and separated from the underlying bone with the small triangular periosteal elevator, keeping the smooth surface towards soft tissue.

  • Firm controlled small push will separate the papillae atraumatically without harming the gingiva.

  • After reflecting the papillae, the attached gingival is separated keeping the sharp edge of the periosteal elevator firmly on the bone, this is often hardest part of the flap reflection, and care must be taken to ensure the soft tissues are not put under undue tension.

  • Then instrument is pushed downwards and backwards to complete the reflection.

Repositioning and suturing

The flap can also be replaced to a new position like in buccal advancement flap and sutures should be carefully placed to perform a complete wound closure, 4/0 to 6/0 sutures are used to avoid scar marks in the future.

Anatomical consideration

Anatomical structures that must be taken into consideration when designing a flap are explained according to the area of flap placement. The two arches i.e. mandible and maxilla are the places of consideration during designing a flap due to presence of some important structures like nerves and other blood vessels that are to be taken into consideration during the surgery.


There are two main nerves which should be considered when planning a flap in the mandibular region

Mental nerve

  • Radiographic image of the mental foramen prior to surgery to ensure the position is imperative.

  • When making a flap in this region the anterior relieving incision should be placed mesial in the first premolar region.

  • The nerve lies within the buccal soft tissues and therefore will be retracted intact with the flap.

  • Care must be taken during the procedure not to cause crush injury to the nerve by excessive pressure with the flap retractor which may damage the nerve.

Lingual nerve

  • In the third molar region, it is only covered by a thin layer of mucous membrane.

  • When making incisions in the posterior mandible, especially in this region, all incisions should be made buccally to prevent damage to the nerve.

  • Lingual flap can be kept intact during third molar surgery to prevent lingual nerve injury.


  • The hard palate is innervated by the greater palatine nerve, with which the greater palatine vessels run.

  • The vast majority of palatal surgeries are done using an envelope flap around the necks of the teeth, the neurovascular bundle are reflected with the flap without much difficulty.

  • If vertical relieving incision is required for access, then this must be done at the anterior end of the flap, as posterior relieving incision will damage the greater palatine vessel causing brisk bleeding which may lead to complications.

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