Did you recently undergo gum grafting? It’s step one for restoring healthy gums and preventing further damage to your teeth and their roots. Before the surgery, your periodontist will tell you about the procedure, so you know how the treatment works and what to expect.
They may also have mentioned some warning signs and complications to look out for. Like any surgery, gum grafting does come with its own set of risks. After all, it typically involves taking a piece of tissue from another part of your mouth and grafting it onto the affected area. And while it restores receded gums or those damaged by gum disease, recovery is still a process.
Are you worried about potential complications from gum grafting? Our periodontists can walk you through the recovery process and tell you about complications to watch out for. Keep reading to find out.
Why do you need gum grafting?
Before we dive into possible complications, it’s important to be reminded of why gum grafting is important. Periodontists recommend gum grafting to treat:
- Exposed tooth roots: Gum grafting will cover up exposed roots of the teeth, resulting from worn enamel, typically caused by plaque build-up and tooth decay, as well as aggressive brushing
- Tooth sensitivity: A common symptom of exposed roots, gum grafting can extend the coverage provided by gum tissue to prevent teeth from feeling sensitive when consuming hot or cold beverages
- Appearance: Gum grafting also has aesthetic benefits, particularly if your smile appears “toothy”.
- Support tooth restorations: In some cases, gum grafting is performed to support restorations like crowns and implants to treat damaged tissue.
Complications to Watch Out for After Gum Grafting
Even with its high success rate and numerous benefits, gum grafting still has a few potential complications. But, try to keep in mind that this is normal for any type of surgery. What’s important is that you know what to expect and how to get ahead of it.
Watch out for these complications after your gum grafting, and find out when to call your periodontist:
1. Severe swelling and loosening sutures
Some swelling is normal in any procedure. It should subside after 3 to 4 days. However, severe swelling and loosening sutures can greatly impact recovery and the success of gum grafting.
In order for gum grafting to work, the graft has to survive with adequate blood supply. Severe swelling and loosening sutures can dislodge the graft. If this happens, call your periodontist right away. They will likely recommend trying the procedure again once the surrounding tissues have matured.
2. Tissue slough from upper arch
Tissue sloughing is quite a common side effect of gum grafting. This can happen due to the size of the tissue harvested for grafting on the affected area. Ask your periodontist about using a plastic vacuum form of your upper arch. This is a clear, thin plastic that snaps onto your teeth to cover the palate and avoids disturbing the donor site.
Similar to other surgeries, an infection can occur after gum grafting. This can delay healing, especially if the treatment site was exposed to bacteria for a while. Your periodontist can prescribe an antibacterial mouthwash for the first ten days of recovery. It’s especially helpful for maintaining oral hygiene and preventing plaque buildup since you shouldn’t brush the affected area.
Another common side effect (and less of a complication), it’s normal to experience some bleeding, particularly in the donor site.
The amount of bleeding depends on what type of graft was used. Since a connective tissue graft uses tissue beneath the top layer of the roof of the mouth, it tends to bleed less. In contrast, since a free gingival graft uses surface-level tissue from the roof of the mouth, it can bleed more.
5. Uneven healing
Once the graft heals, you might find that it’s uneven, with one part of the site clearly looking different from the rest of it. The good news is, your periodontist can fix this issue with symmetry. They can perform a gingivoplasty to thin out extra soft tissue if required.
6. Gum graft failure
Finally, the most serious complication of gum grafting is graft failure. While gum grafting is a highly successful procedure, keep in mind that it is also a technique-sensitive procedure. However, a highly qualified and experienced periodontist can help you avoid this, since they can ensure the graft is properly placed and it doesn’t fail. They will also remind you not to smoke during recovery, and if you have diabetes, it remains under control.
Learn More About Gum Graft Recovery from Our Periodontists in Oakville
Are you worried about complications from your upcoming gum grafting procedure? While we discussed these risks, it’s important to remember that our periodontists in Oakville are highly skilled and experienced, and dedicated to the success of your gum graft. With Periodontal Associates, you can trust that your gum grafting procedure is performed skillfully and smoothly to reduce the risk of complications.
For your peace of mind, here are some parting thoughts from our periodontists about the success rate and recovery from gum grafting.
How successful is gum grafting? The most important thing to remember
Our periodontists in Oakville note that gum grafting is highly successful and one of the most definitive ways to treat gum recession and exposed tooth roots. And, not only does it restore your healthy smile, but it also improves its appearance.
With these benefits, it’s clear that gum grafting is a winner. But, its success still highly depends on the problem it aims to treat, and the amount of stress on the graft after the surgery, such as when you eat or brush your teeth. If the gum tissue hasn’t receded that much and the tissue between the teeth is largely intact, then it’s very likely that gum grafting will be successful.
It’s also important to be careful with the treatment site after gum grafting. Muscle pulls can easily affect the healing. As well, brushing over the area can also injure it. And in 4 to 8 weeks, your gum graft will heal, effectively restoring healthy gums.
Want to learn more about potential complications from gum grafting? Ask our periodontists in Oakville, and we’ll help you prepare for a successful surgery.