If gum recession is affecting your smile and denting your confidence, it could be time to consider gum grafting. Good oral health doesn’t start and end with good brushing habits and fighting cavities — it’s important to look after your gums, too. In this article, we’ll take a look at gum grafting and why this procedure is the most effective solution for receding gums and overall dental health.
What Causes Receding Gums?
Receding gums are a common condition that can be caused by a number of factors. Over-aggressive brushing can cause the gums to recede over time. If you have a history of gingivitis and gum disease, and it is not treated correctly, the gums can start to recede and expose the roots of your teeth. This in turn can lead to increased sensitivity and a higher risk of tooth decay.
In many cases, people don’t realize they have receding gums until their dentist tells them during their routine check-up. That might be because it has happened slowly over time, or the gums are receding on teeth at the back of the mouth. The good news is that most cases of gum recession can be treated with a graft.
How Can Gum Grafting Help Receding Gums?
Do you find yourself covering your mouth when you speak or smile? Perhaps you’re starting to notice your teeth are becoming more sensitive. Receding gums is a common condition that can affect anybody, even those who brush and floss regularly. Just like the foundations under your home support your house and keep it stable, your gums do the same for your teeth. Without healthy gums, teeth can start to decay and fall out. You could even experience bone loss around your teeth.
Gum grafting is highly effective at restoring receding gums back to healthy levels. Over time, following your procedure, your gums will start to grow back around your teeth and regain their pink and healthy appearance. That’s great news for your teeth and your smile.
What Does the Gum Grafting Procedure Involve?
Although the procedure may sound a little daunting, the gum grafting technique is routinely performed by periodontists and also general dentists that have undergone specialist training. During the gum grafting procedure, a small piece of tissue is harvested from nearby healthy gum tissue or from the roof of the mouth. This small piece is then carefully attached – or grafted – onto the area where the gums are receding. It might seem like a complicated procedure but can be performed under local anesthetic relatively quickly compared to other surgical dental procedures.
Different Types of Gum Grafting Techniques
Gum grafting was first invented in 1966. Since that time, the procedure has advanced and been adapted to meet the needs of different patients and periodontal concerns. The treatment you are recommended will largely depend on the extent of your gum recession. Some people may exhibit the early stages of gum recession, while others may have recession that is in advanced stages.
Your periodontist will examine your gums and teeth and recommend the best approach and gum grafting technique. Let’s take a look at these techniques in closer detail:
Connective Tissue Graft
The most common of all gum grafting procedures is the connective tissue graft. During this procedure, your periodontist will cut a small flap into the roof of your mouth. They will then carefully remove a small piece of connective tissue and stitch it into place where the gums are receding.
Free Gingival Graft
Where the connective tissue graft technique creates a “trap door” in the roof of the mouth to get to healthy tissue, the gingival technique takes a layer of tissue from the top layer of the palate. This tissue is then stitched onto the receding gum.
During the pedicle graft procedure, a flap is created in the gum tissue close to the receding area. This flap is then used to cover the receding tissue. Because the blood supply and flow are not cut off completely in this procedure, periodontists often claim this is the most successful grafting technique.
What to Expect Before, During, and After a Gum Graft
It’s always good to know exactly what will happen on the day of your gum graft. It’s also good to know if there is anything you can do to prepare your gums or teeth before your appointment. Your periodontist will ensure you are fully prepped and up to speed on the procedure before you sit in the chair. In the meantime, here’s a little information on what you can expect.
Before Your Gum Graft
You’ll be pleased to learn that gum grafts don’t require any extensive preparation before they are carried out. In fact, preparation is as easy as arranging a consultation with your periodontist. At the examination, your periodontist will assess the condition of your gums and identify the most suitable gum grafting procedure, and where to take the tissue from.
You also don’t need to worry about cutting out any foods or avoiding food before your procedure. However, you will need to arrange for somebody to take you home after your appointment due to the effects of anesthetic and post-op medications.
During the Procedure
On the day of your procedure, a local anesthetic will be applied to the area concerned. If you are uncomfortable or anxious about being conscious during the procedure, a general anesthetic may be available.
As already mentioned the gum graft itself doesn’t take much time at all. Your periodontist will have already identified where to harvest the tissue they need for the graft. Once the tissue has been sutured in place, your periodontist may ask you to relax at the surgery for a while to ensure the graft has been successful.
Recovery After the Procedure
The recovery period is critical for the success of your gum graft. For this reason, it’s important to follow the post-op care plan your periodontist gives you. That means taking prescribed painkillers to reduce any pain and completing the entire course of antibiotics.
You’ll also need to watch what you eat for one or two weeks following your procedure. Soft and cold foods are the order of the day here. Avoid any hot, hard, or spicy foods that could affect the area of your graft or the harvest site.
It might sound a little unpleasant, but you won’t be able to brush or floss the area of your graft for a while. Doing so could open up the wound and prevent the graft from taking hold. Don’t worry, your periodontist will recommend an antimicrobial mouthwash to prevent infections, remove plaque and keep your breath fresh.
Discover How Gum Grafting Could Improve Your Dental Health
Gum grafting has a 95% success rate, especially when you choose the right team. We’d be delighted to tell you more about our procedures and recommend the right treatment path for you. At Periodontal Associates of Memphis, we’re proud of our success rate and how many patients we’ve helped over the years.
Call our team today to find out more about gum grafting in Memphis and to arrange a consultation. It could be the best thing you do for your oral health today.