Healthy gums are essential to oral health. Gums play a significant role in holding the teeth firmly in their position and protect it from food lodgement and bacterial attack.
Receding gums are unattractive and affect the health of the teeth as well. Several factors like poor oral hygiene, trauma, periodontal disease, and bone loss can cause receding of the gums.
Around 4-12% of the adults suffer from receding gums. Often the signs of this gum disease are ignored by the patient till the time it becomes more severe.
Receding gums are also one of the prime factors in causing tooth sensitivity and gradual tooth loss. In such cases, gum restoration is vital to restoring the health of the teeth.
Gum grafts are an excellent option to protect the teeth from the damage caused by receding gums. Moreover, gum grafts also restore the natural smile.
Gum grafting is a simple procedure. The primary attention should be given to the recovery time.
Maintenance of good oral hygiene and some precautionary tips can take you a long way in making this surgery a successful one.
This article is all about gum grafts, its types, and procedures, with a particular focus on the recovery tips.
What is a gum graft surgery?
A gum graft or a gingival graft is used to solve the problem of receding gums. The graft is usually taken from the tissue on the roof of the mouth or a nearby healthy gum. The gum graft is then placed on the surface of the teeth where the gum has worn away. (1)
A periodontist is the best health care professional to carry out this simple procedure effectively. After the surgery, the graft is allowed to heal on its own.
When is a gum graft surgery performed?
Gum graft surgery is often the treatment recommended by a dentist for receding gums. Several factors can contribute to the gradual receding of gums, especially in middle-aged men and women.
Some of the causes of receding gums are –
- Periodontal disease
- Misaligned teeth
- Brushing too hard
- Poor oral hygiene
- Trauma to the gums
- Bone loss
The recession of gums initiates a plethora of dental problems. The teeth become prone to dental caries, acid erosion, increased sensitivity and eventually tooth loss.
What are the types of gum grafts?
Typically, three types of gum grafts are used in the mouth –
- Free gingival graft – this graft typically uses the tissues directly from the roof of the mouth. Free gingival graft works well for people with thin gums or those who require extra tissue to enlarge the gums. (2)
- Connective tissue graft – these grafts are commonly used to treat root exposures. In this, only the subepithelial connective tissue is removed from under the palatal flap and placed on the exposed tooth structure.
- Pedicled gingival graft – this unique type of graft is cut as a flap from the surrounding healthy gum tissue and pulled over to attach at the exposed tooth surface. This flap is recommended in people who have plenty of surrounding healthy gum tissue. (3)
You can always discuss the options that are suitable for your case with a periodontist.
How is gum graft surgery performed?
A gum graft surgery is a simple dental procedure performed by a periodontist. The steps of the process may be as follows –
- The area of the donor site and receiver site are numbed using local anesthesia to make the surgery comfortable
- Depending on the type of gum graft being used, the tissue is harvested from the donor site
- The graft is then attached to the area of concern (4)
- A plastic stent may be placed to protect the surgical field from trauma and infection
- Gum healing occurs on its own which may take up to several weeks to heal completely
After the surgery, the dental specialist may prescribe some antibiotics and pain medications for quick healing.
What is the cost of this procedure?
Typically, gum graft surgeries may cost from $600 to $1200. However, with dental insurance, you may not have to think about spending money from your pocket. You can also get this treatment for free if you have dental coverage as a part of the Affordable Care Act Plan.
What can you to during gum graft recovery?
Recovery of gum graft after surgery is a crucial time that determines the success of the treatment. Here are some quick tips you can follow during gum graft recovery –
Ice packs or cold compressions are excellent to bring down the swelling or bruising. Ice packs also provide comfort during healing.
Use the ice pack repeatedly on and off again for every 20-30 minutes after the surgery.
Avoid hot or cold food
Avoid immediate drinking or eating as the numbness may make you bite your cheek or lip and cause ulcerations.
Hot and cold food or drinks often aggravate the wound and cause unnecessary swelling. Eat food that is neutral or at room temperature.
Switch to liquid diet
For the initial few days, it is better to switch to a liquid diet. Liquid diet decreases discomfort, pain and soothes the healing process. Soups, stews, and juices are perfect to start your diet with after surgery.
Eat soft food
After a few days, you can switch to a soft diet. Some of the food products that you may consume during recovery are –
- Eggs – soft boiled or scrambled
- Mashed potatoes
- Boiled or cooked vegetables
- Cottage cheese
- Ice cream
- Jelly or gelatine products
This step is the most significant out of all. A good oral health care routine will ensure a clean mouth with less plaque and bacteria. Good oral health eliminates the chances of infection. Moreover, good oral hygiene can speed up the healing process.
Take away message
Receding gums are an increasing dental health issue. More than 12% of the adults suffer from gum recession at least once in their life.
Gum recession is a gradual process of destruction which may go unnoticed by the patient. However, it may continue to impact the health of the teeth.
Gum graft surgeries are an excellent way to protect the teeth from the hazardous effects of gum recession. This treatment also restores the natural smile.
A periodontist can discuss the types of gum grafts suitable for your case and guide the healing and outcome of the treatment.
So, what are you waiting for? If you have receding gums, consult your dentist and get your natural smile back.