An Ultimate Guide on What to Expect Before, During, and After Your Gum Graft Surgery
Gum recession is when your gums recede or pull away from your teeth. It happens in people of all ages and even in those with proper oral care. Gum recession can leave the root of the tooth exposed. Since the root doesn’t have a hard enamel covering it, the teeth become extremely sensitive. Exposed root also increases your risks of decay. However, gum recession can be successfully treated with gum graft surgery.
What is a gum graft?
A gum graft surgery may refer to a few different procedures, but all of them involve putting new gum tissue on the area of the gum recession. As soon as the wounds heal and the recession is corrected, new tissues will protect the affected area.
Types of gum graft surgery
Gum graft surgery can be divided into two main types: gingival graft and the connective tissue graft. In both procedures, the doctor takes tissue from the donor area and attaches it to the area where the recession occurs.
For connective tissue graft surgery, the doctor opens a little flap and removes a piece of connective tissue. In gingival graft surgery, the doctor takes tissue from the top layer of your gum. The dentist basically takes gum from one place and moves it to another place.
There is also an option called a pedicle graft. This is when the doctor takes donor tissue from an area near the affected area. The dentist may use cadaver tissue or porcine tissue. It is always preferable to use the patient’s own tissue, but this is not always possible.
Only your dentist may help you choose the type of procedure that is right for you.
Preparation for a gum graft surgery
The preparation for gum grafts is pretty minimal but still very important. At the consultation, the periodontist will walk you through the procedure. The doctor may also collect some documentation of your gum recession for insurance purposes.
The most important thing is to make sure that you eliminate the root cause of your gum recession. If a recession happens because of poor oral hygiene or improper brushing technique then it’s quite important to address that before the procedure. Of course, you need to fully treat all infections in your mouth since it is a surgical procedure.
The day of the procedure
In the procedure room, the doctor will make you an injection with a local anesthetic in the operated area. Sometimes the dentist may use general anesthesia but it is not recommended. Depending on your needs the doctor will perform a gingival graft, connective tissue graft or pedicle graft.
The procedure is usually fast. As soon as the doctor finishes the procedure you will rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash. Then periodontist will explain how to take of your gums after surgery. Your mouth will be numb for a few hours after the procedure is done.
Shortly after surgery, you will be able to go home. You shouldn’t feel pain immediately after the procedure. As soon as the anesthesia wears off the pain may start to appear. To get the medication your doctor prescribes immediately after the procedure if it is possible.
The first two days after the procedure are the most bothersome. Gums will be swollen for about three days. The first day after the procedure gums may bleed. But nothing beyond the level of slightly pink saliva in the sink. You will have to avoid brushing your teeth. Instead, the dentist may prescribe you antiseptic mouthwash.
The biggest issue during the recovery period is eating. Each doctor has his own rules but you will have to avoid eating certain foods for at least one or two weeks.
Complications with gum graft surgery are quite rare. However, if you notice extreme bleeding, pain or fever after the first day, call your provider as it can be something serious.
The final result
About one week after surgery you will have a follow-up appointment with your dentist. During this appointment, the dentist will make sure that the gum is healing well. The doctor may allow you to brush teeth with a baby toothbrush. After about two weeks you will be back to brushing and flossing normally.
After about three weeks you will see the approximate result of gum graft surgery. But full healing will take nearly six-eight weeks. You will be able to see all benefits of the procedure only after tissue completely heals and settles on its new place. This may take up to six months.