What is a Gum Graft?
Oftentimes, a gum graft is necessary to protect your teeth from gum recession, which is what happens when the tissues around your teeth literally begin to pull away—or recede—from the tooth. As well as giving your teeth an eerie, elongated appearance (think Dracula), gum recession can become extremely painful as more and more of your tooth—then your tooth root—becomes exposed. Eventually, if not taken care of, gum recession can cause extensive damage to your bone structure, and actually result in tooth loss.
Gum recession is a gradual process that stems from advanced stages of gum disease. 4% – 12% of North American adults are inflicted with this problem, and many of the cases often go unnoticed until it becomes so severe, it is difficult to NOT notice. The individual will begin to suffer from extreme sensitivity, an unattractive smile and tooth loss. However, to prevent any of this from occurring, you can repair the damage and prevent future problems with a simple procedure: The Gum Graft.
What to Expect
There are three different types of gum tissue grafts that can be performed. Which type I (or your dentist) chooses to use all depends on your specific needs. There is:
· The connective tissue graft, which is the most common graft, and which is used to treat root exposure. This procedure involves cutting a flap of skin at your palate (collected from around the molar sites) and using the tissue from beneath the flap on your gums.
· The free gingival graft is similar to the aforementioned connective tissue graft in that it uses skin from the palate. However, instead of using tissue from beneath the flap, this process uses a small amount of tissue that is removed directly from the roof. This method is generally used to thicken naturally thin gums.
· The pedicle graft is used only on people who have plenty of gum tissue near the tooth. This particular procedure uses tissue from existing gum around or near the tooth that needs repair. When the flap is cut, it is done in such a way that the tissue remains partially attached, and pulled down so that it covers the exposed root, and then sew it into place.
It is mostly up to the Periodontist which method you will have to undergo. However, if you’re uncomfortable with what we propose, you can always ask about using a tissue bank, or even look into tissue stimulating proteins that encourage natural growth of bone and tissue. But again, trust your Periodontist when he tells you they believe a certain method will work best for you.
Recovering from a gum graft tissue procedure is a lot like recovering from getting your wisdom teeth pulled, or recovering from a tonsil removal—you will be on a strict diet of soft, cool foods, you will have to keep physical activity to a bare minimum and you will be required to take medications. You will have to follow these rules for one to two weeks.
The amount of pain you might experience all depends on which grafting procedure you undergo. Generally, if you had tissue removed from the palate, you can expect discomfort for a few days following the procedure. Many patients have described the pain as feeling like a “bad pizza burn,” but have said that you’ll “heal quickly.” If you should experience continuous pain after the first few days or persistent bleeding, contact us to arrange a time with Dr. Lenga to assess the area.
If you underwent the pedicle graft procedure, you should experience little to no discomfort whatsoever.
Though a gum graft isn’t nearly as bad as you might think, I can promise you that you do not want to go through the process twice. That is why it is important to:
· Brush twice a day, everyday
· Floss daily
· Schedule regular checkups and cleanings
· Eat a well-balanced diet
· Don’t smoke!
For a full list of all the post-surgical care instructions, CLICK HERE