Many of you may be familiar with the term “skin graft” or “bone graft,” which is why, when your dentist tells you that you need a gum graft, you think the procedure will be worse than it actually is. But don’t panic – gum surgery isn’t really that bad, and I can promise you, the procedure is much easier than having to deal with the consequences of NOT going through with the treatment at all.
Oftentimes, a gum graft is necessary to protect your teeth from gum recession, which is what happens when the tissues around your teeth literally begin to pull away—or recede—from the tooth. As well as giving your teeth an eerie, elongated appearance (think Dracula), gum recession can become extremely painful as more and more of your tooth—then your tooth root—becomes exposed. Eventually, if not taken care of, gum recession can cause extensive damage to your bone structure, and actually result in tooth loss.
Gum recession is a gradual process that stems from advanced stages of gum disease. 4% – 12% of American adults are inflicted with this problem, and many of the cases often go unnoticed until it becomes so severe, it is difficult to NOT notice. As I mentioned earlier, the individual will begin to suffer from extreme sensitivity, an unattractive smile and tooth loss. However, to prevent any of this from occurring, you can repair the damage and prevent future problems with a simple procedure: The Gum Graft.
What to Expect:
There are three different types of gum tissue grafts that can be performed. Which type I (or your dentist) chooses to use all depends on your specific needs. There is:
· The connective tissue graft, which is the most common graft, and which is used to treat root exposure. This procedure involves cutting a flap of skin at your palate (the roof of your mouth) and using the tissue from beneath the flap on your gums.
· The free gingival graft is similar to the aforementioned connective tissue graft in that it uses skin from the palate. However, instead of using tissue from beneath the flap, this process uses a small amount of tissue that is removed directly from the roof. This method is generally used to thicken naturally thin gums.
· The pedicle graft is used only on people who have plenty of gum tissue near the tooth. This particular procedure uses tissue from existing gum around or near the tooth that needs repair. When I (or your dentist) cut the flap, I do so in such a way that the tissue remains partially attached, and all I have to do is pull it down so that it covers the exposed root, and then sew it into place.
It is mostly up to the dentist which method you will have to undergo. However, if you’re uncomfortable with what they propose, you can always ask about using a tissue bank, or even look into tissue stimulating proteins that encourage natural growth of bone and tissue. But again, trust your dentist when he or she tells you they believe a certain method will work best for you – I know I would never steer you wrong, and any other dentist worth their salt won’t either.
Recovering from a gum graft tissue procedure is a lot like recovering from getting your wisdom teeth pulled, or recovering from a tonsil removal—you will be on a strict diet of soft, cool foods, you will have to keep physical activity to a bare minimum and you will be required to take medications. You will have to follow these rules for one to two weeks.
The amount of pain you might experience all depends on which grafting procedure you undergo. Generally, if you had tissue removed from the palate, you can expect discomfort for a few days following the procedure. Many patients have described the pain as feeling like a “bad pizza burn,” but have said that you’ll “heal quickly.” If you should experience continuous pain after the first few days or persistent bleeding, contact your dentist – this is NOT normal!
If you’re one of the lucky ones who underwent the pedicle graft procedure, you should experience little to no discomfort whatsoever.
Obviously, next to “Will it hurt?”, “How much will it cost?” is the top of mind question for most patients. Oftentimes, insurance will cover a majority of the cost, but on the off chance your provider doesn’t, or that you don’t have dental insurance at all, talk with one of our office assistants or me about what we can do for you.
Though a gum graft isn’t nearly as bad as you might think, I can promise you that you do not want to go through the process twice. That is why it is important to:
· Brush twice a day, everyday
· Floss daily
· Schedule regular checkups and cleanings
· Eat a well-balanced diet
· Don’t smoke!
To learn how we can better assist you in achieving the comfortable, beautiful smile that you’ve always wanted, visit us at http://www.nicevillefldentist.com/cosmetic-dentistry/. Thank you for reading!