If you are dealing with receding gums or periodontal disease, your dentist may have given you the option of a gum graft.
Since the name alone doesn’t give much insight into the procedure, in this article we’ll discuss the ins and outs of gum grafting, as well as its advantages and disadvantages. By the end, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether or not a gum graft is the right choice for you!
What is a gum graft?
A gum graft, also known as a gingival graft or periodontal graft, is a dental procedure performed to treat a receding gum line. Gum recession occurs when the gum tissue surrounding the teeth pulls back or wears away, exposing the tooth root. This condition can lead to tooth sensitivity, an increased risk of tooth decay, and a less aesthetic appearance.
During a gum graft, a dental specialist takes tissue from another part of the mouth, usually the palate (roof of your mouth), and transplants it to the area where gum recession has occurred. The transplanted tissue is carefully placed over the exposed tooth root or in the area of gum recession, effectively covering and protecting it.
There are three common types of gum grafts:
Connective tissue graft: This is the most frequently performed gum graft. A minor incision is made in the palate which allows the dentist to lift a flap of tissue and take a small amount of tissue below it (the graft). The flap is then sealed back up and the graft is stitched over the exposed root area.
Free gingival graft: In the case of a free gingival graft, the top layer of tissue from the palate is taken. This method is often used for people who have thinner gum tissue.
Pedicle graft: In this technique, instead of taking tissue from the palate, a flap of gum tissue adjacent to the area of recession is partially cut, leaving one side attached. This piece is moved over to cover the exposed root.
In severe cases where the patient doesn’t have enough healthy gum for a graft, donor tissue may be used.
At what point is a gum graft necessary?
Gum disease and recession are common problems that can lead to various oral health issues, such as tooth sensitivity, tooth decay, and even tooth loss. A gum graft procedure becomes necessary when the recession is severe to the point that it is affecting the health of your gums and the stability of your teeth.
In order to preserve your beautiful smile, it is recommended that these issues get taken care of as soon as possible.
What are the advantages of a gum graft?
There are many advantages to gum grafts, such as:
- Restoring gum health: When your gums recede, the roots of your teeth can start to become exposed, making them vulnerable to infections. A gum graft allows your dentist to replace the damaged or receded gum tissue with healthy tissue, thereby reinforcing the gums. Gum grafting is a highly effective procedure for restoring gum health and maintaining a strong foundation for your teeth.
- Reduced sensitivity: Exposed tooth roots can lead to increased tooth sensitivity, specifically when eating or drinking hot or cold foods and beverages.Fortunately, a gum graft can provide relief by covering the exposed roots with healthy gum tissue.
- Prevention of further recession: Gum recession is often progressive, meaning that it can continue to worsen if left untreated. By addressing the issue early on with a gum graft, you can effectively control gum disease and maintain your oral health.
- Improved aesthetics: Beyond the functional benefits, a gum graft can greatly enhance the appearance of your smile and boost your self-confidence. Receding gums can make your teeth look longer, uneven, and asymmetrical. With a gum graft, Dr. Delwyn Dick (DDS) and Dr. Lamont Murdoch (DDS) at Kootenai Dental Group, can carefully sculpt and re-shape your gum line, add volume to thin gums, and cover exposed roots. In turn, you can expect a more youthful and attractive smile.
- It can be a long-term solution: The longevity of the graft depends primarily on the individual’s oral health and brushing habits. With proper care, good oral hygiene, regular check-ups, and cleanings, this procedure can last for the rest of your life.
What are the disadvantages of a gum graft?
As with any medical procedure, there are some disadvantages to consider. In the case of gum grafting, they may include:
- Discomfort during the healing process: The healing process plays a vital role in the success of the gum graft. It’s common to experience tenderness, swelling, or minor bleeding in the treated area during the initial healing phase. In cases where the graft tissue is taken from the roof of the mouth, there may be a temporary increase in sensitivity or difficulty eating certain foods.
Our dentists will provide you with detailed instructions to help manage these symptoms effectively. It’s important to follow their guidelines meticulously, maintain good oral hygiene, avoid aggressive brushing or flossing near the graft site, adhere to any prescribed medications, use the recommended antibacterial mouthwash to promote optimal healing, and stick to a diet of soft foods for at least a week following treatment.
- Risk of infection: Although extremely minor, there is a risk of infection associated with gum grafting. The good news is that this risk can be significantly reduced by strictly adhering to the dentist’s post-procedure care instructions. By keeping the treated area clean, you can ensure a smooth recovery.
- Donor tissue availability: In the case that your gums are not healthy enough for a graft, healthy gum tissue will need to be obtained from a donor. The availability of donor tissue can affect the timeline of your treatment.
- Gum graft cost: The base cost of a gum graft procedure can vary depending on several factors, including the severity of the gum recession, the technique used, and the expertise of the dental professional performing the procedure. Our dentists at Kootenai Dental Group in Coeur d’Alene, ID can evaluate your specific case and provide you with an accurate estimate.
A gum graft can be a game-changer for anyone dealing with receding gums and periodontal disease. It helps to restore the gumline, protects the tooth root from further damage, reduces tooth sensitivity, improves oral health, and enhances the appearance of a person’s smile.
Without a doubt, the long-term benefits of a gum graft greatly outweigh the temporary inconveniences.
Are you a good candidate for a gum graft?
An evaluation with one of our experienced dentists is the first step to ensure that a gum grafting procedure is the best choice for you. Schedule your consultation at Kootenai Dental Group in Coeur d’Alene, ID today.
Call us at 208-762-8750 for an appointment!