Over time, bacteria eat away at the healthy gum tissues (the gingiva) and cause the gums to pull back from the teeth. This leads not only to problems with teeth, but also with the way the gums appear. Many people complain of a “toothy” smile, or of teeth roots that are not protected and therefore lead to sensitivity or unappealing aesthetics.
What is Gum Grafting?
Gum grafting refers to the procedure chosen by your periodontist to protect your teeth from the damaging effects of gum recession, or you may choose to have one to improve the appearance of your smile.
Candidates for Receding Gums Treatment
Dr. Ari Moskowitz may suggest that you consider a gum graft (also called a gingival graft) if you have had periodontal disease that has caused gum recession. Gum disease is actually one of the most common causes of receding gums, which studies suggest affects up to 12 percent of the population.
What Are The Benefits of Gum Grafting?
- Your teeth will be protected, rather than exposed.
- You will have less likelihood of sensitivity caused by exposed teeth roots.
- You will have a reduced chance of losing a tooth to gum disease.
- You will reduce the areas where gum disease-causing bacteria can hide and thrive.
- You will feel more pleased with your appearance.
What are the risks involved with gum grafting?
There are rarely any complications with gum grafts placed by Dr. Moskowitz. This is a safe and effective treatment. You’ll use a special mouth rinse to help control plaque during your initial recovery and we’ll provide an antibiotic to put on your grafted areas. Things to watch for would be oozing or unexpected bleeding around the graft sites. Any bleeding should stop after applying some pressure for no longer than 20 minutes. Also, if you notice more swelling or bruising than we talked with you about, you need to call us. The main risk is that the graft may not properly adapt or take to the new site. This is very rare but if it happens you’d likely need to have the procedure repeated.
Do gum grafts work?
Gum grafts are an effective method to correct receding gums. Dr. Moskowitz is one of the few periodontists in the United States trained in the pinhole technique to treat gum recession without using grafts. But this method cannot be used for all patients; some situations require grafting. Gum grafts are almost always successful at returning coverage to the tooth roots that have become exposed through gum recession. The grafted gum tissue easily establishes itself in its grafted location. In addition to stopping additional gum recession and exposure of the tooth roots, gum grafts can reduce tooth sensitivity and protect the roots from root decay. This is because the formerly exposed root surfaces now have adequate gum coverage again. Gum grafts from Dr. Moskowitz will also give you a more contoured, even gum line.
Gum Grafting Procedure
During a gum graft, Dr. Moskowitz will restore the recessed gum line to a healthy appearance. This will be done by grafting tissues from another part of the mouth, such as the palate, or using sterilized collagen sheets to the affected gums. This surgical procedure is very safe when performed by a trained periodontist.
How long does gum grafting take?
These procedures usually take an hour or less. Dr. Moskowitz and his team will give you information on how to make sure the gums heal properly after you go home.
Before and After Receding Gum Treatment
Are gum grafts permanent?
Once the grafted gum tissue successfully takes to its new locations, these are permanent. As long as you follow a regimen of attentive home oral hygiene your gum grafts will be there for the long haul.
Of course, this doesn’t guarantee that new gum problems cannot develop, but more attentive care will usually prevent that.
Is gum grafting painful?
Thanks to modern local anesthesia, you’ll feel nothing during the procedure. If Dr. Moskowitz has used gum tissue from the roof of your mouth for the grafts, you will have some discomfort for a few days after your surgery. For an idea of how this will feel, we’ve heard the feeling described as being akin to that of a major pizza burn (from biting overly hot pizza). Patients usually find over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medication is adequate to keep them comfortable, but Dr. Moskowitz will also prescribe some pain medication. The palate of your mouth and you new gum grafts will heal quickly, usually in just a week or two.
Gum Graft Surgery Patient Testimonial
Dr. Moskowitz performed gum graft surgery on me. He is very thorough in explaining not only how he is going to fix the issue, but how to prevent gum recession in the future. He uses advanced technology and procedures, spends time with his patients, and takes genuine care into ensuring they have the best experience. He took time to know me as a person, not just a patient. I would recommend him to anyone looking for a knowledgeable, caring, and skilled periodontist.
Gum Grafting Recovery
After the procedure, you may experience some discomfort and bleeding. You can go home right after surgery and you are not required to take off work the next day. You have to eat soft foods for a couple of weeks. The gums will be completely healed in about 6-8 weeks.
How long does swelling last after gum graft surgery?
There will be swelling. It will usually peak around the third day and will fully resolve after a week, although it can last as long as 10 days. You can help to mitigate this by diligently using ice. Apply the ice bag to the side of your face where the surgery was performed. Hold the ice bag in place for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off for the first 48 hours. It also helps to sleep with your head elevated for the first two or three days. If your swelling continues to grow after three days, or if the area feels hot and is red, we need to hear from you immediately. After three days (two days of icing and one extra day), moist heat (heating pad, etc.) can be applied to the area to reduce residual swelling.
What can I eat after a gum graft?
You cannot eat or drink anything for three hours after your surgery. From there, you need to eat liquid foods for seven days, moving to soft/liquid foods for the next three weeks. Don’t eat anything that can get caught in the surgery site or tear your stitches. No chips, nuts, rice, popcorn, and the like. Avoid hot foods and drinks and food that requires active chewing while your mouth is still numb. Stay away from hot food and drinks for another two weeks. Protein/nutritional drinks are a good idea, as are smoothies and foods such as yogurt. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
How do you brush your teeth after a gum graft?
Paying attention to your oral hygiene will speed healing, reduce odor, and lower your risk of infection. One day after your surgery, you’ll begin rinsing gently with a tall glass of warm water with one rounded teaspoon of salt dissolved in it. Don’t rinse vigorously, but try to keep the salt water in your mouth for 30 seconds. Do this four to five times daily. You can brush and floss normally on the teeth and areas not involved in your gum graft. You can use mouthwash, but dilute it by half with water. We’ll prescribe an anti-infection mouthwash that you’ll rinse with for 30 seconds twice daily.
Can I use Listerine after a gum graft?
Yes, but dilute it by half with water. Do not rinse vigorously, either.
These procedures have high success rates, but occasionally a graft will fail. Success or survival of the graft tissue depends on the blood supply that comes from the surrounding bone (there aren’t any blood vessels on tooth surfaces). The stability of the grafted tissue directly impacts success rates. If the graft moves, the graft will have failed and the procedure will need to be repeated. This is rare, but can happen.
Is there an alternative to gum grafting?
Dr. Moskowitz is one of the few periodontists in the U.S. trained in the pinhole technique for receding gums. This method doesn’t use grafts and has little recovery. But the pinhole technique cannot be used for all patients suffering from receding gums.
How much does a gum graft cost?
The cost of your gum graft at Baltimore Periodontics has a few variables that will affect the cost. These variables are the size of the area, the extent of the gum recession, the type of graft tissue used from the patient’s mouth or a tissue bank. Grafts with donor tissue usually will cost more. Once we get an idea of your unique situation, we can give you as estimate of what gum grafting will cost.
Schedule a Consultation
If you have experienced gum disease and suffer from gum recession, gum grafting may be the perfect treatment for you. To learn more, contact our office at (410) 744-6088 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Moskowitz.