A gum tissue graft may be necessary to protect your teeth from the damaging effects of gum recession or to improve the appearance of your smile. Gum recession is the process in which the tissue that surrounds the teeth pulls away from the tooth, exposing more of a tooth or the tooth’s root. Gum recession is a common problem and often goes unnoticed until it becomes more severe. When gum recession occurs, the body loses a natural defense against both bacterial penetration and trauma. It also causes damages to the supporting bone. Many people don’t even notice that their gums have receded because it is a gradual and slow process. However, an exposed tooth root can not only look ugly but can also cause tooth sensitivity, especially when eating hot or cold food. Eventually, if we don’t treat gum recession, it can lead to tooth loss. To repair the damage and prevent further dental problems, a gum tissue graft is an excellent choice.
Some Reasons For Gum Recessions include:
- Genetically, the gum tissue may be thin.
- Periodontal disease.
- Poor bite alignment.
- Aggressively brushing of teeth.
- Sometimes grinding teeth can also contribute to this issue.
What Are Some Advantages Of Tissue Grafting:
- Helps prevent further gum recession and bone loss.
- Covers the exposed parts to protect them from decay.
- Helps in reduction of tooth or gum sensitivity.
- Generates a beautiful and complete smile.
- Also helps in the creation of a suitable environment for implant placement, if needed.
The Different Types Of Gum Tissue Grafts:After careful examination of the reason for gum recession, your dentist will first work to control these contributing factors.
Once that is done, your dentist will perform one of the gum tissue grafts depending on what you need:
- Connective-tissue grafts: This is the most common method used to treat root exposure. During the procedure, a flap of skin is cut at the roof of your mouth and tissue from under the flap, called subepithelial connective tissue, is removed and then stitched to the gum tissue surrounding the exposed root. After the connective tissue i.e. the graft has been removed from under the palatal flap, the flap is stitched back down.
- Free gingival grafts: Similar to a connective-tissue graft, free gingival grafts involve the use of tissue from the roof of the mouth. But instead of making a flap and removing the tissue under the top layer of flesh, a small amount of tissue is removed directly from the roof of the mouth and then attached to the gum area being treated. This method is used most often for people who have thin gums, to begin with, and need additional tissue to enlarge gums.
- Pedicle grafts: In this procedure, instead of taking tissue from the palate, it is grafted from the gum around or near the tooth needing repair. The flap, called a pedicle, is only partially cut away so that one edge remains attached. The gum is then pulled over or down to cover the exposed root and sewed into place. This procedure can only be done for people who have plenty of gum tissue near the tooth.
- Allografting: This is done primarily when a patient has a need for multiple teeth to be grafted and cannot supply enough of their own to cover the area. Though using your tissue is preferred as it yields greater results, allografting is chosen when we can not go for that option. The procedure is the same as that of connective-tissue grafting, just that instead of taking your own tissue from your mouth, the allograft is taken and placed in the pocket. Then the pocket is sewn closed.
What To Expect Post Tissue Grafting?You will be able to go home post-surgery. However, if you are given intravenous sedation to help relax, you will have to ask someone to drive you back home. There might be some minor pain after the surgery depending on the type of gum graft performed. A regular painkiller like Ibruprofen is enough to take care of this minor pain. If the tissue is not removed from your palate, you should have little to no discomfort. However, if the tissue is removed from the palate you will feel some minor discomfort for a few days. However, your palate is one of the fastest healing areas and you should be back to eating anything in no time. The dentist might prescribe you some medication to make you feel better or you can choose to take some over the counter anti-inflammatory medications for the time being. While you will be completely normal in a couple of months, your first three weeks will be vital for initial healing. However, you can still return to work in a day or two. In case, you don’t like how your grafts look after it is healed, you can speak to your dentist to reshape your gum tissue so you can get the look you want. A complication is rare and infections are extremely uncommon. However, if you experience any unusual symptoms then you should call your dentist immediately.
Some unusual symptoms can be:
- Bleeding non-stop even after applying pressure for some time.
- Experiencing pain, swelling, or bruising.
- Fever and pus.
What Care Needs To Be Taken, Post Tissue Grafting?
Care should be taken post-surgery for the success of the operation, such as:
- A diet needs to be followed, such as eating soft and cool foods like eggs, pasta, Jell-O, yogurt, cottage cheese, well-cooked vegetables, ice cream, and so on. Your dentist will help you with this. Avoid eating hard or hot food as it can burn or irritate the graft.
- Some physical activities will be required as per the dentist direction.
- Taking the medications such as antibiotics regularly as prescribed by the dentist.
- Not flossing or brushing the gum line that was repaired until the area has healed.
- Rinsing your mouth with a special mouth rinse to control plaque during the healing process.
In order to prevent gum problems, some simple preventive care should be taken:
- Regularly visiting your dentist for check-ups and cleaning.
- Brushing your teeth twice a day using fluoride-based toothpaste and a soft toothbrush.
- Avoiding abrasive toothpaste.
- Flossing daily.
- Rinsing once or twice a day using an antiseptic mouthwash.
- Eating a balanced and healthy diet.
- Stop smoking.