If you have gum recession, then in most cases, your dentist will recommend a procedure: Gum Graft.
With the help of this dental surgery procedure, your dentist can correct the effects of gum recession.
Moreover, it is a quick and relatively simple surgery in which your periodontist will remove healthy gum tissue from the roof of your mouth.
They will then use it to build the gum back up where it is receding.
When the tissue wears away, it exposes more of the tooth at the root, and gum recession occurs.
This can increase sensitivity, especially while eating and drinking hot or cold foods.
As gum recession tends to occur slowly, you may not realize it is happening.
However, if you do not get treatment, it can eventually lead to tooth loss.
In some cases, you may choose this procedure for cosmetic reasons, like to have a better smile. While in order cases, you may need it to protect the exposed tooth from damage.
And repair damage that has already occurred.
Keep on reading to learn more about it in detail.
Preparing for a Gum Graft Surgery
There are three types of gum grafts:
- free gingival graft
- connective tissue graft
- pedicle or lateral graft
Your periodontist will discuss these options with you and also make their recommendation.
This recommendation is based on your individual needs as well.
Once you decide on what procedure you will have, you do not have to fast or change your diet a day before or on the day of the procedure.
However, all you will need to do is show up.
Your periodontist will confirm the type of graft you will need.
But you will need to arrange a ride to and from your appointment.
Moreover, your dentist will give you medications for gum pain and discomfort that may make it unsafe for you to drive.
Thus, you will need to ride home with a friend or use a car service.
Procedure for Gum Graft
There are a variety of gum grafts, while the type of surgery you will undergo depends on the extent and severity of damage and your individual needs.
Moreover, your periodontist will discuss the types of surgery so that you can decide the option best suitable for your needs.
Before the procedure of the gum graft begins, your periodontist will administer local anesthesia to numb the area.
This helps so that the procedure does not hurt or cause discomfort.
In rare cases, however, they may allow you to have general anesthesia so that you can be unconscious during the procedure.
This is often not recommended as there are risks that go along with general anesthesia.
Let’s discuss the types of gum grafts for receding gums as follows:
Types of Procedures
The types of procedures are as follows:
Connective Tissue Grafts
In this procedure, your periodontist will:
Remove the tissue from the roof of the mouth by making a flap and then takes the tissues from underneath the top layer.
They will then stitch the tissue onto the existing gum tissues to cover the exposed tooth roots.
Lastly, they will stitch the flap on the roof of your mouth from where they take the tissue in the first step.
Free Gingival Grafts
This is a method if you have thin gums that need extra tissue to enlarge the gums.
In this procedure, your periodontist will first remove the tissue directly from the top layer of the tissue on the roof of the mouth.
They will then stitch this tissue to the existing gum area.
Pedicle or Lateral Grafts
This procedure is the preferred method if you have lots of gum tissue growing near the exposed tooth.
During this procedure, your periodontist will:
- graft tissue for the gum around or near the tooth that needs treatment
- only partially cuts away from these tissues, while keeping one edge attached
- stretches the tissue over or down, covering the exposed tooth root and holding it in place with stitches
Moreover, your periodontist may also source the tissue from a tissue bank rather than removing gum tissue from your mouth.
Recovering from the Surgery
Take antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection, avoid strenuous exercise, and avoid foods that are hard to eat.
Moreover, make sure to eat soft, cool foods. These include ice crease, pasta, eggs, yogurt, and soft cheese.
It is important to note that you should avoid smoking as well to reduce the risk of developing complications.
The pain and discomfort you may experience will vary.
If the periodontist is using tissue from a tissue bank, for instance, you should feel minimal pain.
However, if they remove tissue from the roof of the mouth, you may feel pain for a few days.
It is important to note that Healing Process is often quick, and can take 1 to 2 weeks for the month to fully heal. However, it can also take longer.
You can take over-the-counter, OTC pain relievers or prescription medications that can help manage any discomfort.
After the procedure completes, your teeth may feel more sensitive than usual.
This is particularly for hot and cold food. While you may benefit from using desensitizing toothpaste or mouthwash.
In most cases, you can return to work the following day.
Furthermore, you will probably have a follow-up appointment with the dentist after surgery to check the healing process.
This helps to make sure that your healing process is progressing as it should.
Your dentist may also remove stitches if necessary.
The gums, however, will not look different after surgery but may feel tighter and firmer too.
One of the important things to note is that gum graft surgery can cause minimal and uncommon complications.
However, it is also possible that you may experience some of the following:
- bleeding gums
- swollen gums
- teeth feeling looser though it is often temporary
- sensitive teeth
- spaces appearing between your teeth
On certain occasions, the graft tissue may not attach to the graft site properly.
This is, however, very rare. But if this happens, you may not need to repeat the surgery.
In some cases, you do not like the way your smile looks after gum graft surgery.
Thus, in such situations, your periodontist may be able to reshape the gums to help change the ways they look.
You should seek medical advice or call your dentist as soon as possible if you notice any symptoms that suggest that you have an infection in your gums after surgery.
Some of the symptoms of infection include:
Bleeding that continues for over 20 minutes, despite applying pressure, unexpected pain, swelling, and bruising.
Moreover, if fever and pus occur at the site of treatment, make sure to see your dentist as soon as possible.
Is Gum Graft Surgery Necessary?
While deciding on a gum graft surgery, you should consider the following:
Alternative Treatments: This can include tooth extraction if the gum recession is already severe.
Cost of Surgery: In case you are considering this surgery for cosmetic reasons alone, then you will likely have to cover the cost of the operation from your own pocket.
Risk of not Treating: In case you do not treat gum recession, it can lead to severe gum disease and eventually leads to tooth loss.
Moreover, gum diseases can also cause further issues like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
By maintaining good oral hygiene, and visiting your dentist for routine dental checkups on regular basis, you can reduce your risk of developing gum diseases, and catch them early should they begin to develop.
Cost and Insurance
It is important to note that gum graft surgery varies in price.
The cost of the procedure often depends on the type of surgery you will need.
However, you may be able to get all or part of the surgery paid by your insurance if you already have dental insurance.
Your insurance company can provide estimates to give an idea of the overall cost.
What Happens Next?
In most cases, you should fully heal from a gum graft within one to two weeks.
You will need to schedule a follow-up appointment a week or so after the procedure so that your periodontist can make sure you are healing properly, and the graft is successful.
After about two weeks, you should be able to brush and floss your teeth again.
Complete healing of the area of the graft can take a month or more depending on your overall health and how well you take care of your mouth while recovering.
Gum graft surgery is a procedure that helps you to restore the gums that are wearing down, protect your teeth, and even improve the appearance of your smile.
There are different types of gum graft surgeries available. All of these are straightforward with minimal risk of any complication.
However, you may feel discomfort after the surgery, but you should make a full recovery within 2 weeks.