Gum Grafting Procedures in Canada
Gum grafting is a procedure used to build up the gums after they have become infected and receded (pushed back from the teeth). Healthy gum tissue is harvested from the patient’s mouth and grafted onto areas where the gums are receding or thin.
Understanding Gum Disease
Gum disease (or periodontal disease) in an infection that affects the gum tissues in your mouth. Your gums play an important role in holding your teeth in place. When they become infected, gum recession may occur, which causes gums to draw back from the teeth.
Receding gums may expose the root of the tooth, causing pain and other issues. Activities like chewing and brushing your teeth can become painful, your gums may bleed or become sore regularly, or you could experience tooth loss if the gum disease advances.
Gum disease is often preventable with good oral hygiene practices, both at home and at your local dental clinic. Brushing and flossing regularly can help reduce the amount of bacteria that builds up, in turn reducing the amount of plaque in the mouth.
Symptoms of gum disease include:
- Red, swollen, tender, bleeding, or painful gums
- Pain when chewing
- Loose or sensitive teeth
- Consistent bad breath
- Receding gums (the teeth will appear longer)
Gum Graft Surgery
Once gum disease has progressed to a stage where the mouth has been affected, gum grafting procedures may be necessary to restore the gum tissue in a specific area of the mouth.
Gum grafting procedures begin by harvesting healthy gum tissue (most often from the roof of the mouth). This tissue is known as “donor tissue.” Then, the tissue is moved to the graft site, where additional tissue is needed.
Types of Gum Grafting
There are three types of gum grafts, all of which are performed in slightly different ways. Often, the type of procedure your dentist or periodontist recommends will be based on your overall oral health and the reason for the graft.
Free Gingival Grafts
If your gums are thin, your dentist may recommend free gingival grafts to add gum tissue to the affected area to prevent further thinning and recession. In this type of graft, a small piece of tissue from the top of your mouth is removed and sutured to the graft site.
Connective Tissue Grafts
This is the most common type of graft used in dentistry, and it is similar to a free gingival draft. However, in connective tissue grafts, your dentist will open a small flap in the roof of your mouth and remove a layer of tissue from just above the topmost layer of tissue.
A pedicle graft differs from the other two types of grafts in that no tissue is fully removed and transferred in your mouth. Instead, healthy gum tissue adjacent to the graft site is cut into a flap, which is then sutured to the area in need of gum tissue. Although this procedure is often successful because there is continuous blood flow to the grafted tissue, it requires that healthy gum tissue is available near the site of the recessed tissue.
Gum Grafting FAQ
Do I need gum grafting?
You may need gum grafting if your gums have receded due to gum disease or if you have thin gums.
How do I prepare?
In most cases, a gum grafting procedure does not require intense preparation. Gum grafting is often performed in a typical dental clinic setting, and it does not require fasting. However, you may want to arrange for a friend, family member, or cab to take you home after the procedure, as you may be given pain medication that could make driving unsafe.
Can I return to my normal routine after gum grafting?
Recovery from gum grafts will interrupt your usual dental routine and eating habits for a week or two while the graft heals. In that time, your dentist or periodontist will likely recommend that you avoid brushing or flossing in the area around the graft site and. You will also want to avoid hot or hard foods that could damage the graft. Finally, you may be asked to use a microbial mouthwash to prevent infection and buildups of bacteria that could interfere with the healing process.
How long is the recovery process?
The period of time for recovery depends on the amount of tissue grafted, which type of grafting was completed, how well you follow aftercare instructions, and your overall health. It’s important to allow your mouth the proper amount of time to heal to ensure that the graft takes properly to the grafting site. In most cases, your dentist will schedule a follow-up appointment within two weeks of the procedure to check on the healing process. After two weeks, your graft is likely to be fully healed.
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