Gum Grafting: Procedure, Aftercare, and More

3D Rendering of a gum graft

Gum Recession: Soft tissue graft surgery. 3D illustration of Dental treatment

Has your dentist recommended a gum graft? Gum grafting is a dental operation for correcting receding gums. This is when the gum tissue surrounding a tooth pulls back or wears away. This exposes the tooth and tooth root, leading to increased sensitivity.

Gum recession happens in the more advanced stages of gum disease. Receding gums can eventually lead to tooth loss if left untreated.

Gum grafting can be necessary to prevent further problems. Read on to know what to expect during and after the procedure.

Gum Recession

Gum recession is a common dental problem that most patients don’t notice because it’s a slow process. It affects about 4-12% of adults.

The areas exposed by receding gums are more susceptible to developing harmful bacteria. This can damage the tissue and bone that support the tooth when left untreated. Tooth sensitivity is a common first sign of gum recession.

There can be several causes for gum recession. The leading cause is periodontal disease. This is a gum infection with bacteria that destroys gum tissue as well as the bone holding teeth in place.

Another cause might be poor oral hygiene. Brushing too hard can also wear away tooth enamel, making you vulnerable to gum recession. Other causes include hormonal changes, teeth grinding, or a misaligned bite.

Gum Grafting

A periodontal specialist performs a gum graft to repair gum recession. Gum grafting is a minimally invasive operation. This process is also relatively quick so you can leave as soon as it’s over.

How does gum grafting work?

First, Dr. Newhart will remove a piece of healthy tissue. This can be from the roof of your mouth or from surrounding healthy gum tissue. Then, Dr. Newhart will attach it to the area where your gums have receded.

Using graft material from a tissue bank is also an option for some dentists and patients who prefer it. In some cases, tissue-stimulating proteins can also encourage natural bone and tissue growth.

Dr. Newhart can tell you which option will work best for you. You don’t need to fast or adjust your diet as preparation for a gum graft procedure. All you need to do is show up.

What Happens During a Gum Grafting Procedure?

When you arrive for your appointment, a member of the dental team will escort you into the procedure room. Despite being minimally invasive, there will still be local anesthesia to numb the treatment area.

There are usually 3 different types of gum grafts. Dr. Newhart will discuss these with you. They’ll make a recommendation based on your specific needs.

Free Gingival Grafts

In free gingival grafts, Dr. Newhart takes graft material from the roof of the mouth. He does this without making a flap and taking the tissue under the top layer of tissue.

The small amount of tissue taken is then attached or sutured to the area that needs gum tissue. This is most often used in patients who have thin gums and need extra tissue to prevent further gum recession.

Connective Tissue Grafts

The most common method for treating root exposure is connective tissue grafts.

In this procedure, Dr. Newhart cuts some skin from the roof of your mouth or palate. Next, he removes some subepithelial connective tissue, which is under the flap. He then stitches this tissue to the area surrounding the exposed root.

After taking the connective tissue or the graft from under the palatal flap, it’s closed with a suture.

Pedicle Grafts

With pedicle grafts, Dr. Newhart doesn’t take tissue from the palate. Instead, he takes the graft from gum tissue near or around the area that needs repairs.

The pedicle, which is the flap he cuts, is only a partial cutaway with one end remaining attached. This is then pulled over or down the exposed root, covering and sewing it in place.

This procedure is usually the most successful because it doesn’t stop blood flow in any area of the mouth. However, pedicle grafts are only performed on patients who have plenty of gum tissue near the gum recession.

Once any of these procedures are over, Dr. Newhart closes the graft or entry point with a suture. He will then ask you to rinse your mouth with antibacterial mouthwash.

Recovery

The pain and discomfort can vary between patients. If Dr. Newhart used tissue from a tissue bank, the pain should be minimal. If he took the tissue from the palate, then a patient might feel discomfort for a few days.

The healing process is usually quick. Most patients can also get back to work the next day.

It can take 1-2 weeks for the mouth to completely heal although it can take longer. To manage pain, patients can take over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription medications.

Teeth can feel more sensitive than usual, especially to hot and cold foods. Using desensitizing toothpaste or mouthwash can help.

During the first weeks of recovery, it can be better to eat soft and cold food to avoid damaging the graft. These can include pasta, eggs, soft cheese, yogurt, and ice cream. Avoid hard or hot foods that might burn or irritate the graft.

As part of gum grafting aftercare, avoid brushing or flossing the treated area. Avoid strenuous activities and smoking, too.

Dr. Newhart will likely recommend using an antimicrobial mouthwash for a few weeks. This will help prevent infections, plaque buildup on teeth, or problems with the graft.

Contact Us About Gum Grafting

Gum grafting is a simple procedure for treating gum recession. It’s necessary to avoid tooth loss and further dental problems.

There are usually 3 types of procedures for gum grafts. Dr. Newhart will help you choose the best option for you. The recovery process is also usually quick.

If you’d like to know more about gum grafting, schedule a consultation or contact our team today.

While located in Parkersburg, Dr. Newhart also services patients from surrounding areas. If you’re in Marietta, OH, or nearby towns in Ohio, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Newhart for periodontal services.

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