Gum Graft Surgery
Cavities aren't the only common issue with a lot of patients. Gum recession is what happens when your gum tissues recede and exposes the sensitive areas of your teeth. Gum recession occurs from aggressive brushing, gum disease, and aging. Depending on the severity of your gum recession, your dentist may recommend a gum graft.
Before Gum Grafting Surgery
If your dentist suspects that gum grafting is a solution for you, they will
refer you to a periodontist. The periodontist will check a few aspects of
- Your gums health
- The pockets around your teeth
- The gum recession around each tooth
Depending on what the periodontist finds, they may want to monitor your gum recession for a time. Or they may recommend you proceed with gum graft surgery. Your periodontist will discuss your treatment options with you in detail during your consultation.
During Gum Grafting Surgery
There are many gum grafting techniques and tools available. Periodontists will normally take tissue from your palate (the roof of your mouth) and attach it to the recession area. Alternatively, they may need to use a substitute grafting material, which is purchased from a licenses bone and tissue bank.
During surgery, a periodontist will:
- Give you local anesthetic- This is to numb your teeth and gums in the area. Periodontists may also offer sedation dentistry options for your comfort. Be sure to ask about your options during your consultation.
- Prepare the site - Once you're comfortable, the periodontist will make an incision to create a small flap in your gums. At this time they will also clean your teeth roots.
- Harvest the gum graft - A small incision is made on the roof of your mouth to remove a small wedge of inner tissue. The outer layer remains intact. They'll close the site using sutures or dressing. If donated tissue is used, this step will be skipped.
- Place the graft - The graft is inserted in the area of recession to cover your roots.
- Place sutures - The incisions are closed with stitches.
After Gum Grafting Surgery
Your surgeon will likely want to check on your gum graft after one week or later. After the initial check up, you will have routine follow-ups until your periodontist releases you back to your general dentist for continuing care. In generel, you can expect your post-surgery to look like this:
The first day
You will experience some bleeding, swelling and discomfort. To manage these side effects, take medications exactly as prescribed by your surgeon. Get lots of rest and avoid strenuous activities.
Eat soft, cool foods, such as yogurt, pudding, or smoothies.
Keep the surgical area clean using antibacterial mouthwash. Don't brush or floss directly on th gum graft; this can damage the graft, leading to failure. You can brush and floss your other teeth as your comfort allows.
The first week
Bleeding should subside within the first couple of days, but the swelling will continue for three to four days. You may also develop bruising at this time. These are normal conditions and should subside within a week. Continue taking medications as prescribed.
You can include more soft foods in your diet as you're able. Foods such as eggs, pasta, fish, and cooked vegetables should be manageable now.
Gently brush your teeth near the surgical site, but don't brush directly on your gums. Don't brush or floss around the gum graft until your surgeon says it's safe.
The second week
Swelling and bruising should begin to fade, and your comfort should continue to improve. Ask your surgeon when it is safe to begin decreasing your medication dosage.
As your comfort improves, you can include more solid foods in your diet. However, you should still avoid hard, crunchy, or spicy foods until your surgeon clears you.
Once your surgeon does clear you, you may resume normal brushing and flossing.
Risks / Benefits
- Reduce risk of gum disease
- Reduce risk of cavities (exposed roots are vulnerable to decay)
- Decrease teeth sensitivity
- Improve the appearance of your smile
- Excessive bleeding
- Rejection of gum graft (failure)
If you notice heavy bleeding, pus, or anything that appears out of normal conditions, contact your surgeon right away.
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your surgeon right away.
- Large patch of white tissue fallen off your tooth
- Pus at the surgical site
- Fever of 38 Celsius (101 Fahrenheit)
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