A gum grafting procedure can seem intimidating, but you can minimize any anxiety you may experience by understanding what to expect and adequately preparing beforehand. This review discusses how you can properly prepare for a gum grafting procedure before the day of your scheduled visit. Of course, your dentist should provide you with pre-procedure instructions to…
A Dentist Explains the Gum Graft Procedure
Receding gums are the most common reason that a patient may undergo a gum graft. When gums begin to recede, they expose the roots of the teeth, which in turn can cause the teeth to decay more quickly and cause increased sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. A graft can correct the problem by replacing the gum tissue. A dentist can help the patient determine whether a free gingival graft, connective tissue graft, or pedicle graft is the right option. Outside of the consultation, the patient will generally not have to do anything to prepare for the procedure.
The gum graft procedure
The procedure that the dentist follows depends on which type of gum graft is being done.
Free gingival graft
Free gingival grafts are preferable when the patient needs extra tissue in order to enlarge the gums. During the procedure, tissue is removed from the top layer of the roof of the mouth and stitched to the patient's existing gums.
Connective tissue grafts
A connective tissue graft uses tissue from the roof of the mouth taken via a small flap from underneath the top layer of tissue. This tissue is stretched onto existing gum tissue to cover any exposed tooth roots. Finally, the flap is stuck up onto the roof of the mouth.
When a patient has a lot of gum tissue near the exposed tooth, it may call for pedicle graft, sometimes referred to as a lateral graft. During this procedure, tissue is grafted away from the gum near the affected tooth but one edge of the tissue stays attached. The tissue is then stretched over the exposed tooth root and held in the proper place with stitches.
Recovery after a graft procedure
The discomfort felt during the recovery process depends on the procedure used. Typically, a patient heals fully within two weeks. The dentist may recommend the patient do several things and avoid other behaviors to speed up the recovery process.
For example, the patient should avoid brushing or flossing near the stitches and should instead use a special mouthwash to prevent plaque build-up in the area. The patient should avoid strenuous exercise and hard food as well, opting instead of soft, cool foods. Typically, over-the-counter pain medication and antibiotics are part of the treatment process.
Complications related to grafts
Although they are rare, some graft patients do experience complications. Luckily, these are often minimal. They typically include bleeding or swollen gums, teeth that temporarily or permanently feel looser, tooth sensitivity, or infection. On very rare occasions, the graft does not attach properly and requires an additional procedure. While complications are usually rare and mild, a patient should seek help if applying pressure to bleeding does not end it within 20 minutes, if pus is present, or if the patient has a fever.
If your gums are receding, appropriate treatment can help to ensure your teeth remain healthy. Your dentist can help you determine if a gum graft procedure is right for you.
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