Does your smile appear “toothy”? Your first stop should be a periodontist. As specialists in gum health, they’ll be able to confirm if your gums have receded. It’s important to see a periodontist as soon as you notice it because gum recession is a gradual process. This means that by the time you notice it, your gums have already been starting to recede for a while.
A periodontist will likely recommend soft tissue grafting to treat gum recession and restore the health of your gums. With gum surgery indicated, it’s important to know what happens exactly, so you’ll know what to expect and how to prepare. From finding out why soft tissue grafting is performed to taking steps to prepare for the procedure, and learning how to care for your gum graft, the success of your gum surgery starts with being prepared.
Did your periodontist schedule your soft tissue grafting procedure in Mississauga? Read on to find out everything you need to know about gum surgery and how to prepare.
Why is soft tissue grafting performed?
The first step in preparing for gum surgery is understanding why you need a gum graft—and how it addresses your periodontal issues.
Periodontists recommend soft tissue grafting to treat several periodontal issues, most commonly when your smile is “toothy” or your teeth appear bigger and longer than before. Here’s what it means:
1. Gum recession
Indicated by a “toothy” smile, gum recession is evident when your teeth appear longer than normal. This happens as the gums recede or pull away from the teeth, exposing their roots. Without the protection of gum tissue, exposed roots cause heightened tooth sensitivity and become susceptible to tooth decay.
Gum recession occurs because of periodontal disease, overly aggressive brushing, trauma from an injury, ill-fitting dentures, use of tobacco products, and genetic factors. Keep in mind that it’s a gradual process, so it’s often not noticeable until you experience symptoms like tooth sensitivity.
2. Periodontal disease
Periodontal disease develops as bacteria builds up in the gum line, turning to plaque. When left untreated, gum disease causes the tissue and bone to deteriorate and pockets to form around the roots of your teeth. These pockets then collect even more bacteria, eventually causing teeth to loosen and fall out.
Your periodontist can perform gum surgery to reduce the pockets. This involves folding back the gums to remove the bacteria build-up, then suturing them back in place. This type of gum surgery helps preserve your natural teeth for longer.
How to Prepare for Soft Tissue Grafting
The first step in your soft tissue grafting procedure is meeting your periodontist for a consultation. During this visit, your periodontist will conduct a full dental exam to assess the health of the gums, teeth, and bones. This includes:
- Taking x-rays and/or 3D images of the mouth and head to visualize the gum structures and identify where soft tissue grafting is required
- Reviewing your dental and medical history to ensure that you are in good health and it is safe to perform the procedure
- Compiling a list of medications, vitamins, and supplements you are taking to prevent harmful drug interactions with antibiotics you might need after the procedure.
- Recommending anesthetic and sedation options, including general anesthesia, and reviewing guidelines like avoiding food and drink for eight hours prior and monitoring conditions like diabetes or hypertension to prevent complications related to the anesthetic.
Type of Soft Tissue Graft
Perhaps the most important part of preparing for a soft tissue grafting is knowing the type of graft that will be performed. Your periodontist will recommend a type of graft depending on your individual needs.
- Free gingival graft: A periodontist performs this type of soft tissue grafting by removing a small piece of tissue from the roof of the mouth and attaching it to the area that needs gum tissue. Free gingival grafts are recommended if your gums are thin and require more tissue to prevent them from receding further.
- Connective tissue graft: In this most common type of soft tissue grafting, your periodontist will create a small flap in the roof of your mouth to harvest a piece of connective tissue under the top layer. They will graft this connective tissue to the area where your gums have receded.
- Pedicle graft: In this type of soft tissue grafting, your periodontist will create a tissue flap right next to the receded gums. They will use the flap to cover the area, essentially involving local tissue grafting rather than harvesting tissue from other parts of the mouth. However, for these to be effective, you will need lots of healthy gum tissue in the surrounding areas.
What to Expect During Your Soft Tissue Grafting Procedure
Now that it’s time for your soft tissue grafting, it’s important to arrive at your periodontist’s Mississauga clinic fully prepared. There are a number of things to consider, including preparing for sedation or a local anesthetic, getting to the procedure and going home, and preparing for recovery at home.
- Anesthesia: Most soft tissue grafting procedures can be performed with just a local anesthetic. In this case, it will be administered to numb the procedure area. If you need to be placed under general anesthesia, you’ll need to avoid food and drink for eight hours prior.
- Reviewing the procedure: Once you arrive, your periodontist will review the entire procedure with you. They will go over the type of soft tissue grafting and how it’s performed, and make sure you’re healthy, so it’s safe to proceed.
- Transportation: Make arrangements for a family member or friend to accompany you during the appointment. They will need to bring you home, as the anesthetic and medications for pain and discomfort will make it unsafe for you to drive.
The Actual Soft Tissue Grafting
Once all preparations are complete, your periodontist will begin your soft tissue grafting. The procedure itself doesn’t take very long. As you have already confirmed the type of graft, your periodontist will proceed with harvesting the tissue and grafting it onto the area of gum recession.
After the graft is sutured in place, you will be asked to rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash. Then, your periodontist will review post-op instructions, so you can care for the graft while it heals, and ensure its success. These include cleaning your teeth and gums without disturbing the graft, eating a modified diet, and taking pain medication as required.
Your periodontist will also provide instructions for contacting them in case of an emergency, or if you have questions or concerns during recovery.
Your Soft Tissue Grafting with Periodontal Associates
Are you ready for your soft tissue grafting procedure? At Periodontal Associates, our periodontists are here to help you prepare. From confirming why you need a gum graft to going over the different types of grafts and the best one for your individual needs, get everything you need to prepare for your soft tissue grafting. With yours coming up, our periodontists are ready to answer all your questions, and make sure you’ll recover smoothly and successfully.
Are you going in for your soft tissue grafting procedure? Ask our periodontists how to prepare. Contact Periodontal Associates in Mississauga today for complete patient care, from consultation to grafting and healthier gums.