Gum Graft Procedure | Recovery, Cost

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Gum Graft Procedure

Maintaining your oral health is a must, but in some cases, when you aren’t taking enough care, gum recession can occur. This happens when your gum tissue starts to wear away and exposes the tooth root. Since the gum recession is a slow process, most people won’t even realize that it’s happening till things get worse. 

While some people opt for a gum graft for cosmetic purposes, like getting a better smile, however, in case of gum damage, it is a necessary process to protect against further damage. What is the gum graft procedure step by step? What’s the healing time, and what is the cost? Here is everything you need to know about the gum graft procedure.  

Pay Attention to Your Gum Health

Pay Attention to Your Gum Health

Gum recession is amongst the most common periodontal health complications. Gums can often recede because of over-aggressive brushing, having thinner gum tissues, or earlier orthodontic treatment. However, a more serious concern is a history of gum disease or gingivitis resulting from inflammation and bacteria. This is often due to poor hygiene. 

The gum graft procedure time and success will depend on the gum grafting method, procedure, and recovery, which significantly depends on the experience and skill of your periodontist. 

What is a Gum Graft?

What is a Gum Graft

Gum grafting surgery is a dental procedure that a periodontist, a gum specialist, performs for treating receding gums. If receding gums are not treated, they can expose the tooth roots, leading to tooth decay and sensitivity. A gum graft is a dental procedure that can help to reverse the negative impacts, so your gums can become healthy again. In this way, the gums can keep their protection around the teeth. 

The gum grafting process includes taking a tissue piece from the mouth roof or nearby healthy gum tissue. This piece is then attached or grafted where the gum recession has occurred. Usually, it’s a two-part, quick process that requires healthy tissue to be taken from your body and utilizing it to correct a receding gum to avoid further complications. 

Types of Gum Graft Procedures 

There are different gum grafting techniques used, each addressing a specific concern. Based on the degree of gum recession, how much the cheek pulls the surgery site in daily tasks, and whether the gum recession has occurred between the teeth, the gum graft technique will vary. Here are some of the commonly used gum grafting procedures. 

1. Connective Tissue Graft

Connective Tissue Graft

A connective tissue graft, also known as the trap door method, is among the most common methods used to treat tooth root exposure. In this method, a skin flap is cut at the mouth roof (Palate), and tissue, subepithelial connective tissue, is taken from under this flap. This is then stitched in place to the gum tissue of the exposed root. After the graft is removed, the flap is stitched back. 

2. Pedicle Graft 

Pedicle Graft

In this gum graft procedure, the tissue is taken from near or around the affected site instead of the palate. In the pedicle, the flap is cut only partially, so one end remains attached. This gum flap is then pulled down or over the exposed root to cover it and sewn in place once set. This procedure is only possible for those with a lot of gum tissue around the tooth. 

3. Free Gingival Graft 

Free Gingival Graft

The free gingival graft differs from the “trap door” method because a small tissue piece is removed from the mouth roof. The difference is that the tissue used in this method is taken from the palate’s top layer. This is then grafted where the gum tissue is needed. This method tends to be suitable for those who have thinner gums and need additional tissue for gum enlargement. 

4. Alternative Grafts

Alternative Grafts

Usually, gum grafts are done using the patient’s healthy tissues, but this isn’t always possible, like in the case of severe gum recession or when a gum area of five teeth or above has to be covered. In such cases, alternative grafts are recommended. 

Severe gum recession requires a sizable portion of the palate tissue, often unsafe. So, instead, porcine (taken from pigs) or cadaver grafts may be used to cover these receding gum areas entirely. 

With the methods described above, your dentist can help you decide which one will work for you in the best possible way.

What to Expect; Gum Graft Surgery 

What to Expect Gum Graft Surgery

If your dentist suggests you need a gum graft surgery, what should you do and how to prepare? What do expert gum graft surgery before and after? Here is what to expect back, during, and after the gum graft surgery.

Before the Surgery

The good thing about gum graft surgery is that there is no complex preparation. You just need to consult your periodontist about the severity of the gum recession and what gum grafting method will be the best in your case. 

There are no restrictions on diet pre-surgery. Just get a ride from your home to the dentist’s office. Also, prepare for a ride back home because of the effects of post-op medication and anesthesia, you may feel a little discomfort, and it may not be safe to drive on your own.

During the Surgery 

You will be taken to the procedure room and administered local anesthesia for numbing the area on your arrival. General anesthesia may be used in some cases to help with anxiousness. 

The process wouldn’t take too long as the grafting area and donor tissue have been identified previously. The dentist will take the graft and suture applied to secure the graft. 

Post-Operation Care

Once the procedure is complete, the dentist may ask you to wash your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash. You may also be asked to sit for a while, like an hour or more, to ensure no issues occur. Day-by-day gum graft surgery healing pictures show the healing process from a gum graft surgery. 

Recovery Time and Care

Recovery Time and Care

The gum graft procedure healing requires good care to reduce the recovery time. After the procedure is complete, you may want to get a drive home as you’d be under the effect of medications. Your dentist may have given you instructions to follow for post-op care like a specific diet, drugs, and physical activity. Until the gum line has been completely repaired, you cannot brush or floss the area. The dentist may also advise you to use a mouthwash for rinsing the mouth to help with the plague control and healing. Moreover, the dentist may also give you antibiotics to reduce the chances of infection. 

The recovery time from the surgery, however, will depend on the graft performed. After the surgery, try eating soft foods like Yoghurt, Jell-O, pasta, eggs, cooked vegetables, ice cream, and cottage cheese for a week or more. Also, your dentist may recommend you to visit for a follow-up after two weeks.

Risk Factors During Grafting

While the risks and complications from this surgery are uncommon and minimal, some of the risk factors may be involved. 

  1. Swollen gums 
  2. Bleeding gums 
  3. Sensitive teeth 
  4. Infection 
  5. Teeth may feel looser 
  6. Spaces appear between teeth 

Though rare, sometimes, the graft tissue may not be adequately attached to the site. In this case, the surgery may need to be repeated. Sometimes one’s smile may be affected by the gum graft surgery, so the dentist may need to reshape the gums to improve the look.

Cost With and Without Insurance 

A gum graft can cost between $600 to $3,000 for each tooth. If you have an insurance plan, the cost may be fully or partially covered. Dental insurance will mostly cover some costs of a gum graft. If considered necessary, medical insurance can also offer coverage for some cost of the surgery. Some additional options and payment plans are also available for covering these costs. 

Conclusion 

Gum graft surgery is a standard dental procedure that is useful in restoring receding or worn-out gums, thereby protecting the teeth and improving the smile. Multiple options for gum graft surgery are available. The process is relatively straightforward with minimal complications. Full recovery from gum graft surgery takes almost two weeks. The gum graft procedure and recovery details, however, will be confirmed by your dentist. 

FAQs

Are gum grafts painful?

Well, gum grafting is a painful process, thanks to local anesthetics. You experience some discomfort after the surgery; your periodontist will try to do everything to make your experience relatively painless. 

How long will it take to recover from gum graft surgery? 

Most patients will recover from this surgery within a week or two. Most people resume regular work after the procedure. After surgery, you can feel your teeth be a little more sensitive. Desensitizing mouthwash or toothpaste can help reduce discomfort. 

Will I be put to sleep during my gum graft surgery?

Usually, gum grafting requires local anesthesia because the dentist needs to take tissue from the mouth roof and stitch it to the receding gum. While you wouldn’t need to be sedated fully, local anesthesia will be used to reduce the pain.

Is gum grafting surgery worth it?

Gum grafting is an effective and safe procedure that has been proven and tested as successful in treating several cases of receding gums. Still, some risks are involved but can be reduced with proper post-op care. 

dan

Author Since:  March 11, 2022

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