Periodontal disease, which includes gum recession, is a common problem. Nearly 50% of people aged 30 and older have some form of periodontal disease.
Luckily, if you suffer from periodontal disease, there are plenty of treatment options available. Gum grafting is one of the most popular. It is used as both a cosmetic procedure and a specific treatment for gum recession.
What is Gum Recession?
Gum recession happens to many people as they age. When this occurs, the gums pull back from the teeth.
This can lead to many complications. For example, it may expose the roots of the tooth or lead to the creation of “pockets” between the teeth and gums where harmful bacteria can live.
When left untreated, gum recession may lead to advanced oral disease or tooth loss. Many people do not notice they have gum recession, as the process happens gradually. Tooth sensitivity is usually one of the first signs your gums may be receding.
If you think you may have gum recession, it is best to speak to your cosmetic dentistry practice to ensure you receive the appropriate oral care.
What is Gum Grafting?
One of the more common treatments for receding gums is gum grafting. Gum grafting can also help to improve the appearance of your smile, even if you do not have gum recession.
There are several different types of gum grafting options available. These include:
This is the most common type of graft used to treat gum recession. In this procedure, your dentist will cut a small flap of skin on the roof of your mouth (your hard palate). Under this skin is the subepithelial connective tissue.
A piece of subepithelial connective tissue is then removed and attached to your gum line. Once your dentist has removed the tissue from your palate, they will stitch the flap back up.
Free Gingival Grafts
This procedure also uses tissue from the roof of your mouth. However, tissue is taken directly from the roof of the mouth instead of cutting a small flap to retrieve the underlying tissue.
Generally, this procedure is common for those with naturally thin gums. This allows your dentist to retrieve more tissue than in connective tissue grafts.
For those who are seeking gum grafting for cosmetic reasons, this is one of the more common procedures.
This procedure does not take tissue from the roof of the mouth. Instead, your dentist will graft tissue from the gum line itself. Generally, the tissue is from an area nearby the tooth receiving treatment.
Only those with lots of surrounding gum tissue can get this type of procedure. It is generally for those with only one or two teeth with receding gum lines.
The Gum Grafting Procedure: What to Expect
Though gum surgery can seem daunting, it’s actually a relatively straightforward process. If the thought of having tissue grafted makes you nervous, there are also options to use synthetic tissue or donor tissue.
In general, there is very little preparation required for this procedure. However, you will need to have a thorough examination before receiving the procedure. This allows your dentist to determine which option will provide you with optimal dental care.
Radiographic images can also help your dentist get a closer look at your mouth, gums, and tooth structure. This ensures your grafted tissue is appropriately placed.
Is Gum Grafting Safe?
Gum grafting is a common procedure. When the proper care is taken, it is a relatively safe procedure with predictable outcomes. However, it must be performed by a specialist.
Your dentist may decide to use either local or general anesthesia. They will use general anesthesia on those with larger treatment areas or to calm particularly nervous patients.
Before your procedure, your dentist will provide you with post-operative instructions. Be sure to follow these closely, as they will ensure your gums heal properly. This also ensures the results of your procedure will last longer.
In general, you should not eat until your anesthesia has worn off. This prevents you from biting your tongue, cheek, or lips. Additionally, you should bring along someone who can drive you to and from your procedure. It is unsafe to drive after receiving anesthesia.
Be sure to take all medications prescribed to you by your dentist. You can also use ice packs to help reduce pain and swelling.
Your dentist will provide more specific instructions at the time of your procedure.
How Long Does Healing Take?
You will be able to return home immediately following your procedure.
Depending on the procedure you received, you may be uncomfortable for a week or two. Follow all post-operative instructions for as long as your doctor prescribes. Luckily, mouth wounds tend to heal relatively quickly.
Call your dentist right away if you experience any unusual symptoms, such as excessive swelling or bleeding, after your procedure.
How Long Do Grafts Last?
Gum grafts are incredibly effective and should last long-term. However, gum problems could arise again in the future. Following proper oral care instructions will help to prevent further gum issues.
You can prevent gum disease by doing the following:
- Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day
- Floss at least once a day
- Use antiseptic mouthwash one or two times a day
- See your dentist every 6 months for a cleaning and check-up
- Eat a healthy diet
- Do not smoke
Following these tips will make it less likely you’ll need further gum grafting in the future.
Find Your Perfect Smile
Sometimes, gum grafting is a medical necessity. However, it is also used for many cosmetic applications. If you’re looking for that perfect smile, gum grafting may be just what you need.
Contact us to explore your options. A qualified and experienced cosmetic dentist can help you decide if gum grafting is right for you.