Gum grafting can be performed for restorative or cosmetic purposes. In other words, a gum graft can be useful to improve a person's smile or to protect their teeth from the effects of receding gums.
Your gums might start to recede as a result of brushing too hard, especially with a medium or soft toothbrush, or can occur because of gum disease. The recession can lead to the gum structures that protect and support teeth getting pulled back. The bone protecting the teeth underneath the gums is also lost. This means the teeth are not as supported as they were before the damage. Gum recession often goes unnoticed until it becomes something more serious.
The process of gums receding can occur slowly over time or happen very quickly, often after new dental work has been completed. It will eventually leave teeth roots exposed. This can easily ruin the appearance of a person's smile. Exposed roots can also lead to increased sensitivity since the exposed roots are not designed to withstand the temperatures of food. The roots are only protected by this outer layer of cementum, which is nowhere as durable as enamel, meaning that brushing the roots of the teeth, even with a soft toothbrush, can brush the cementum away. Gum recession can eventually lead to teeth becoming loose and falling out if left untreated.
What goes on during gum grafting?
There are three common types of gum grafts performed by dentists. The technique used often depends on the patient's oral anatomy. They include:
1. Connective-tissue grafts
This type of graft is most typically done to treat exposed teeth roots. During the treatment, gum tissue is taken from the roof of the mouth, near the teeth on one side. A flap is opened and gum tissue is extracted from it. The flap tissue goes back so there is not an open wound on the roof of the mouth. This donation site is covered by a clear, plastic shield that is made before the surgery day. The tissue extracted is then stitched to the gum tissue around the exposed root. The stitches are there for about a week, during which you are asked to be protective of the donation and recipient sites. The sites are usually totally healed in about 3 weeks.
2. Free gingival grafts
This type of graft involves extracting gum tissue directly from the roof of the patient's mouth. The clear plastic shield is also used for this procedure. The gum tissue is then attached to the gum area that needs to be improved. This type of graft is typically performed to thicken thin gums.
3. Pedicle grafts
During this treatment, gum tissue is removed from areas next to the tooth being worked on. A flap is cut into the area, and then it is pulled down or over the exposed tooth root and stitched in place. This type of graft is often reserved for people who have healthy gum tissue near the affected tooth.
Some patients and dentists opt for graft materials obtained from tissue banks instead of the patient's mouth. Certain proteins can also be used to stimulate the growth of new gum tissue. The dentist will go with what works best for you after evaluating the recessed areas. Different areas in your mouth may be treated in different ways.
An anesthetic is given at the start of the treatment. It is the same as the numbing agents that you have had for other dental procedures. Most patients only have mild soreness and discomfort afterward. This can generally be managed with over-the-counter or prescription medications like extra strength Tylenol or ibuprofen
Many people have had positive experiences with gum grafting. We can put you in contact with an actual patient to discuss the procedure if that would make you more comfortable.
Please feel free to contact our office to learn more about gum grafts if you have receding gums, gum disease or other gum questions. Our goal is for you to keep your teeth for your lifetime.
Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: Gum Graft in San Luis Obispo, CA.