What is a Gum Graft?
If your dentist has recently told you that you need a gum graft, it may have come as an unpleasant surprise. Gum Recession is when your gums start pulling away from your teeth. It's a common dental problem that goes unnoticed.
Who Does Gum Recession Affect?
Between 4% and 12% of adults are affected. It can be caused by hard tooth brushing, smoking, or periodontal disease. If you’ve noticed that your teeth look longer, or if you have increased sensitivity to cold, sweet or spicy food, you may be affected by Gum Recession.
Gum Recession Treatment:
Luckily, a gum graft is not nearly as intimidating a procedure as it sounds! Since receding gums can make you look older, many patients opt for the procedure to restore their youthful-looking smile. After an examination and depending on your specific circumstances, your dentist will opt for one of several gum grafting techniques. He may opt to graft gum tissue from the roof of your mouth, from around the tooth or from a tissue bank.
Before & After a Gum Graft
Effects After a Gum Graft:
At New Smiles, our doctors will give you specific instructions for postoperative care. The discomfort has been described as the equivalent of a hot pizza burn. You should be able to return immediately to work and your normal activities. Treating gum recession early on can help prevent problems like tooth sensitivity, tooth loss, decay, and reduce your chances of contracting a more serious gum disease—as well as bring back your gleaming, healthy smile!
Why do I need a gum graft?
Gum grafts are necessary to address receding gums. When your gums recede, this exposes more of the tooth root, which is normally covered by the gums. Now your teeth look longer. Because the roots are exposed, those teeth with gum recession will be more sensitive to hot and cold, and too sweet or spicy foods.
Gum recession is frequently the result of gum disease, as the infected gums are forming pockets and pulling away from the teeth. It can also be due to overly aggressive tooth brushing or improper brushing technique.
Who is a good candidate for a gum graft?
Gum recession is a gradual process. Most people don’t realize their gums are moving up their teeth. That’s why we measure your gums during your twice-yearly professional cleanings and exams — to keep tabs on the possible recession.
Anyone with a gum recession is a good candidate for a gum graft. But if the recession is caused by gum disease, we need to address that before we could perform any grafting. After all, it is the periodontal disease that is causing your gums to recede. If this is mainly due to tartar buildup that is moving under the gumline, we may simply perform some root scaling and root planing to remove the plaque and tartar from your teeth and the root surfaces. This will allow your gums to heal and tighten back down over the roots again.
Smokers are not good candidates for gum grafting. Smoking makes it harder for the grafts to successfully take. Smokers are four times more likely to develop gum disease when compared with nonsmokers.
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How do I prepare for a gum graft?
You’ll need to stop taking any medications that could interfere with blood clotting prior to this procedure. If you smoke, you’ll need to stop for two weeks before and after treatment.
Is gum grafting painful?
The amount of pain involved in these procedures depends on the type of gum graft we used. If we removed the donor tissue from your palate, you will be uncomfortable for a few days after your surgery. This isn’t sharp pain — it is often equated to the pain if you’ve burned the roof of your mouth with hot pizza — but you’ll probably need some over-the-counter or prescription pain medication, depending on your pain tolerance. This does heal quickly.
If we used a pedicle graft, where tissue is pulled down or over from existing gum tissue above the area of recession, you will have little pain.
Also, if we opt to use tissue from a tissue bank, rather than your palate, there will be little pain.
How long does it take for a gum graft to heal?
This isn’t a long recovery. You’ll probably want to lay low for the first day or so after your gum graft, but then you can return to work and other typical activities. You will need to eat a soft diet for a week or two, things such as eggs, pasta, yogurt, well-cooked vegetables, and the like. Full healing should only take one to two weeks.
The team at New Smiles will give you instructions on keeping your mouth clean and preventing infection, along with what foods you should eat during your recovery.
Is gum grafting permanent?
These grafts are permanent. They will bring your gumline back down and cover the tooth roots that were exposed. Gum grafting will result in a more even gum line, and your teeth will no longer appear to be overly long.
Your gums can recede again, but this is dependent upon you. If you take care of your gums and don’t brush overly aggressively, this should be the only gum grafting procedure you need.
How long after my gum graft surgery can I eat?
You can eat as soon as you get home. You simply need to eat soft foods. We will give you a list of foods that you can eat after this procedure.