At Shenandoah Family Dentistry we understand that having healthy teeth is important. One procedure you may encounter as you seek out good oral hygiene is gum grafting. This is sometimes necessary when your gums recede—pull away from the teeth they surround, thus exposing more of your tooth or its root. When this happens, it often damages your supporting bone, making gum grafting necessary. Don’t feel like you’re alone in needing this procedure, though—about 4%–12% of adults will need it at some point in their lifetime.
Understanding the Different Types of Gum Grafting
There are a few different procedures that all fall under the term “gum grafting.” The most common type is connective-tissue grafts. These are used to treat recession by removing a flap of tissue from the roof or your mouth and stitching it over top of the area where your root is exposed.
There are three other types of gum grafts as well. First, there are the free gingival grafts that use tissue taken directly from your palate. Second, there are pedicle grafts that use tissue adjacent to the tooth that needs repair. Third, and much less common, there’s gum grafts that used donated, medically processed tissue.
Recovering From Gum Grafting
While you can immediately return home after the procedure, it’ll take you two weeks for your mouth to fully heal. Since you’ll have a sedative for the procedure, you’ll need to have someone drive you home, but you can return to work or school the next day. Make sure you eat soft, cool foods (e.g., eggs, pasta, Jell-O, yogurt, cottage cheese, soft vegetables, ice cream) for the first week after surgery. Don’t floss or brush your gumline in this area until it’s fully healed. We’ll give you a special mouthwash to use instead.
The amount of pain you’ll experience will depend on what type of gum graft we performed. If we don’t remove tissue from your palate, you’ll experience little to no discomfort. However, if we remove tissue, you’ll be uncomfortable for a few days afterward. Most people describe their pain as a “major pizza burn,” which heals quickly. You can take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication to help keep you comfortable.
The healing process typically goes well for people; however, if you have any unusual symptoms following surgery, you should give us a call right away. This includes bleeding that won't stop after you’ve applied pressure to it for 20 minutes. You should also be concerned if you experience more pain, swelling, or bruising than we told you to expect.
Benefits of Gum Grafts
Gum grafts work well to stop the process of gum recession and bone loss. They can also reduce tooth sensitivity and protect your teeth’s roots from decay. After a gum graft, you’ll have a more even gumline, which will improve your smile, speaking ability, and overall self-consciousness. If you find yourself in need of a gum graft, give us a call at (540) 667-8731. Our team at Shenandoah Family Dentistry looks forward to helping you.