Have you recently received a diagnosis of receding gums by your dentist? If so, you may also have been recommended to our periodontist for a tissue graft. This common treatment protects your teeth from being worn down when your gums pull back from your teeth, exposing the tooth roots.
Preparing for Your Gum Graft
There are three kinds of gum grafts; a free gingival graft, a connective tissue graft, and a pedicle (lateral) graft. None of them require fasting or altering your diet before your treatment.
You will have to make arrangements for your drive to and from your appointment since you’ll be given pain medication that could interfere with your ability to drive. Whether you choose to invite a friend or family member or use a ride service, just make sure you’ll be prepared to leave in good hands afterward.
What To Expect With a Gum Graft
When you check in, we will take you to the treatment room and settle you in so you feel comfortable and ready for your gum graft. Local anesthesia will be applied to numb the area where the graft will be done, and in some cases, general anesthesia may be used. These are the treatment options:
- 1. Free gingival graft: A small segment of tissue is taken from the roof of your mouth and attached to your receding gums. This graft is ideal when your gums are thin and need a bit of extra tissue to stop further recession.
2. Connective tissue graft: The most common gum graft, here we open a little flap on the roof of your mouth, take out a segment of connective tissue (from underneath the top tissue layer) and suture it to the receding gums.
3. Pedicle graft: We form a flap of tissue next to your receding gums and use the flap to cover those gums. This approach uses the nearby tissue (instead of taking it from a different area of your mouth). You will need to have enough gum tissue to apply to your receding gums.
After your gum graft is done, you may rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash to clear away oral debris. We will observe you for one or two hours to make sure everything is normal with the graft and send you home with instructions on post-graft care while your mouth is recovering.
Healing and Recovery
For the first couple of weeks during your recovery, using an antimicrobial mouthwash can help keep infections and plaque from building up on your teeth while also soothing the area. For now, skip brushing and flossing around your gum graft until it has healed. If the area feels sensitive, you can take some over-the-counter pain medications while the gums heal. Until our periodontist gives you the green light, avoid participating in strenuous activities or exercise.
For the first couple of weeks, stick to soft, cold foods to avoid harming the recovering gum graft. Avoid anything hard or hot! Safe choices include:
- Cottage cheese and scrambled or soft-boiled eggs
- Healthy smoothies
- Ice cream (without nuts or candy)
- Soft-cooked vegetables
- Yogurt (soft or frozen)
- Your favorite gelatin (Jell-O)
Before you know it, your gum graft will have healed, and you can come in for your follow-up appointment to make sure your healing is progressing and the graft is successful! After that, you can brush and floss normally. If you have any questions for our periodontal team, please give us a call today!