Has a periodontist recently told you that you need a gum graft? Like any dental procedure, gum grafting can sound scary and intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it’s exactly what you need to reverse the damage from gum recession and enhance your smile.
So, what exactly is it? Here, our periodontists in Mississauga will go over everything you need to know about gum grafting and why you need it.
The basics: What is gum grafting?
Periodontists recommend gum grafting if your gums have receded, a process that takes place gradually, so much that many people aren’t even aware of it until they’re told that they need a gum graft.
Essentially, gum grafting involves placing a small amount of tissue in areas where your gums have significantly receded. This provides you with healthy gum tissue that covers the root surfaces of your teeth that have become exposed over time. Since the gums are protective tissues that cover the roots of your teeth, reinforcing them with grafts can prevent further damage.
Why You Need Gum Grafting for Gum Recession
Gum recession is a common dental issue that affects 4% to 12% of adults. However, it often goes unnoticed and untreated for quite some time since it occurs gradually. If it progresses, gum recession can affect the roots and the bone that supports teeth, eventually leading to the loss of teeth. Cavities can more easily form on exposed roots.
Common Symptoms of Gum Recession
Most people only notice—or become aware—that their gums have receded when they experience these common symptoms:
- Tooth sensitivity: Receded gums expose the roots of teeth, greatly heightening their sensitivity to stimuli, especially when consuming hot and cold food and drinks.
- Longer-looking teeth: The perfect smile is a balance between “not too toothy” and “not too gummy”. However, if you notice that your teeth look longer over time, it can be a symptom of gum recession—meaning, your gums have receded so much that more of your teeth’s surface is now visible.
- Halitosis, inflammation, and bleeding of the gums: These are symptoms of gingivitis or periodontal disease, which can cause gum recession and eventual tooth loss when left untreated.
- Visible roots: In cases of severe gum recession, the roots of teeth have become exposed.
What causes gum recession?
- Over-brushing or brushing too hard erodes the tooth’s enamel at the gum line and causes gum inflammation.
- Poor oral hygiene habits can cause plaque buildup and infection that can erode gum tissue and eventually, the jawbone.
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Periodontal disease, resulting from poor oral hygiene habits, and in some cases, other health problems like diabetes, which causes excess sugars in the mouth to help cultivate oral bacteria that progresses into the gums and bones.
Gum Graft Types and Procedure
There are three main types of gum grafting techniques that periodontists in Mississauga may recommend. Each procedure is suited to the degree of gum recession and your overall oral health condition.
- Connective tissue grafts
The most common gum grafting procedure, connective tissue grafts treat exposed roots of the teeth. The periodontist will cut a flap of skin from the roof of your mouth (palate). Then, they will remove tissue from under the flap, known as the subepithelial connective tissue, and stitch it to the gum tissue around the exposed root. Once the connective tissue is removed from under the palate, the flap is stitched back down.
- Free gingival grafts
The periodontist will also use tissue from the roof of the mouth, but instead of creating a flap to access tissue under the top layer of flesh, they will remove a small amount of tissue directly from the roof of the mouth. This tissue will be attached to areas where your gums have receded. This gum grafting technique is recommended for people with thin gum tissue to thicken the gums.
- Pedicle grafts
In this gum grafting technique, the periodontist will use gum tissue from around or near the treatment area. First, they will cut a partial flap, known as the pedicle, while the other edge remains attached. Then, the gum tissue is pulled over to cover the exposed roots and sewn in place. Pedicle grafts are only recommended when you have sufficient gum tissue surrounding or adjacent teeth.
Your Recovery After Gum Grafting
Gum grafting is a periodontal procedure—and like any, it requires a recovery period to ensure its success in treating gum recession. While in recovery, you can expect normal symptoms, such as pain, swelling, bruising, and bleeding. Keep in mind that these are temporary and should subside with post-op care.
Since gum grafting is an outpatient procedure, you will be able to go home right after. Once you’re home, it’s important to follow your periodontist’s instructions. This includes changes to your diet, modified oral hygiene habits, and making arrangements for someone to drive you home afterwards, especially if you were placed under sedation.
- Follow a soft-food diet after your gum grafting procedure while your mouth completely heals.
- Avoid flossing or brushing the treated gums until these have completely healed. Instead, use a special mouth rinse prescribed by your periodontist to eliminate plaque buildup in the area and maintain good oral hygiene.
- Take over-the-counter pain medication as directed by your periodontist to ease any pain or discomfort.
- If prescribed, apply an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection at the treatment site.
Ask Our Periodontists in Mississauga About Gum Grafting
Have your gums receded? While it isn’t always noticeable, there are telltale signs of gum recession, such as increased tooth sensitivity. In severe cases, you may also notice that the roots of your teeth have become exposed. But that’s what we’re here to prevent, and treat.
At Periodontal Associates, our periodontists in Mississauga specialize in leading gum grafting techniques to treat gum recession and periodontal disease. Whether your dentist has recommended gum grafting, or you suspect signs of gum recession, we can help.
During your consultation at our clinic in Mississauga, our periodontists will walk you through the procedure, recovery, and outcome of successful gum grafting. Most of all, we strive to ease any anxiety that you might be feeling over undergoing a gum grafting procedure.