Periodontal disease, genetic predispositions, poor oral hygiene, and a myriad of other factors can lead to receding gums. This condition, if left untreated, can lead to a series of severe complications. For starters, the recession may expose the roots of your teeth, leading to faster tooth decay and increased tooth sensitivity, and making your teeth more prone to abrasion.
To combat receding gums, dental experts will often recommend a gum graft, a procedure that is able to correct the issue of receding gums. Depending on the experts in your sedation dentistry, you may be referred to different practice’s gum specialist or periodontist, who can perform this simple procedure or have it in the same facility.
This article will cover everything you need to know about gum graft surgery, procedure expectations, costs, recovery time, possible complications, and more.
A gum graft is a fairly quick procedure, enabling patients to get back to their daily lives as soon as they’re finished. In essence, during gum graft surgery, the gum specialist will first remove a specific amount of tissue from your mouth’s roof from nearby areas of other healthy gum tissue. Next, they use removed tissue and attach it to the problematic area, where your gums have already worn away.
Also, when talking about the procedure, it’s necessary to know that there are three different graft types:
Typically, before gum graft surgery takes place, your experts will discuss each option for you and would recommend one based on your situation and needs.
Once you have decided to have a gum graft done, you don’t have to start implementing any dietary changes following the day of the surgery.
The only thing you will need to ensure prior to surgery is a driver to take you and from the dental practice. The medications you will be given for discomfort and pain will make it unsafe for you to get behind the wheel, so it’s best to arrange a ride with a friend or family member.
After arriving at the practice, you will be escorted to the room where the procedure will take place, then receive local anesthesia to numb the area where the receding gums need to be addressed.
There are cases when patients may also have general anesthesia to be completely unconscious during the surgical procedure. However, this isn’t always recommended, so it’s best that you consult with your gum specialist beforehand to get a better idea about your sedation options.
As we touched bases on it before, there are three types of graft procedures, and based on your situation and needs, your doctor will perform one of the following surgeries:
Free Gingival Graft: During this process, your doctor will remove a tiny tissue piece from your mouth’s roof and stitch it to the receding area. Periodontists usually perform this procedure when the gums are quite thin but only require some extra tissue to seize further recession.
Pedicle Graft: When your doctor opts for this procedure type, they will create a flap of tissue from the area nearest to your gum recession and use the same flap to cover the receding area. During this gum graft surgery, the doctor moves the receding tissue over with local gum tissue rather than obtaining it from other parts of the mouth. Usually, pedicle grafts are considered the most successful because there’s no blood flow cut off in any area of the mouth. Still, for this to work, patients usually need plenty of healthy gum tissue in the surrounding area, which might not always be the case.
Connective Tissue Graft: During this procedure, the periodontist will open a small flap in the mouth’s roof, remove a tiny piece of connective tissue from under the top layer, and stitch this healthy tissue to the area that needs to be addressed. In essence, this is the most common gum graft type.
Overall getting a gum graft usually won’t take long, and once your doctor finishes suturing up the graft, you will be mostly ready to go. Naturally, following the procedure, your periodontist will discuss the necessary after-care protocols until the graft has healed completely.
Procedure costs will vary greatly and depend on a myriad of factors. In some cases, the procedure will only cost a few hundred dollars, and in others, it may cost over a few thousand.
If patients are insured, the insurance company may offer coverage for the entire surgery or may have only a small out-of-the-pocket cost for the patient.
If you are considering having gum graft surgery, it’s best that you consult with your doctor and insurance agents to see what your financing options are.
Gum Graft Recovery
As said before, patients are allowed to go home shortly after the procedure. In some cases, your doctor may keep you at the practice for an hour or maybe two just to ensure there are no issues.
In the following weeks, you should try to eat as many cold and soft foods as you can to avoid damaging the graft. Hard and hot foods should be avoided as they can irritate or even burn the graft.
That being said, your best food options during the recovery period should be:
Furthermore, your doctor will likely advise you to use an antimicrobial mouthwash for a series of weeks to avoid having to deal with plaque buildup, graft issues, or infections.
Apart from this, you should avoid flossing and brushing the area until your doctor tells you that it’s safe to. Trying to brush and floss the unhealed site can lead to infections and may open up the wound.
If you are experiencing pain following surgery, you can always use OTC medications to relieve the pain. Lastly, try to refrain from strenuous activities or exercise until your doctor says so.
Patients rarely have complications, and infections are also quite rare. Still, if you notice any further bleeding or oozing from the site following surgery, reach out to your doctor as soon as possible.
There are some rare instances when the gum grat tissue fails to adapt to the site appropriately. In these cases, patients need to have the surgery again. Additionally, if you don’t like how the healed graft ends up looking, you can always opt for gingivoplasty to reshape the tissue to make it look more aesthetic.
Usually, the site will be fully healed in a week or two, and patients will usually only need to schedule an appointment to follow up on the results so the doctor can make sure that everything’s in order.
All in all, the surgery is pretty straightforward with successful outcomes, especially when you’re in the hands of the best experts in the area.
As such, if you are looking for stellar dental services in a calming and professional environment, feel free to read out to us and schedule an appointment.