Gum grafting is a treatment for gum recession, which occurs when the gum line moves down the root of a tooth, exposing large amounts of its surface. Gum recession is a very conspicuous consequence of periodontal (gum) disease, which occurs gradually, but over time can dramatically impact the appearance of a person’s smile. Aside from the aesthetic impact of an exposed tooth root, inadequate gum tissue also makes you more susceptible to bacteria because your gums serve as the first line of defense. Left untreated, gum recession can cause root exposure or sensitivity, cavities, tissue inflammation, and further deterioration of the bone and gums as well as tooth loss.
Gum grafting is a procedure used to cover exposed roots or cultivate new gum tissue to replace areas that have been affected by gum recession. Gum grafting can be performed on one tooth or multiple teeth to even the gum line and increase periodontal health. During the procedure, Dr. Heather Richardson at Denver Periodontics & Implant Dentistry in Centennial, Colorado will take gum tissue from your mouth or another source to cover the bare root, shielding it from decay. Depending on the patient’s needs and the extent of their gum recession, your doctor will recommend one of the three types of gum grafting procedures; connective-tissue grafts, free gingival grafts, or pedicle grafts. Connective-tissue grafts and free gingival grafts both take tissue from the roof of the mouth, but pedicle grafts take tissue from the gum tissue surrounding the affected tooth. This type of gum grafting procedure is only used when the patient has sufficient gum tissue near the damaged area.
Following your gum grafting procedure, you can expect to go home that day (though you may need to arrange transportation if you are given a sedative) and return to work within a couple of days. It is important to follow Dr. Richardson's specific post-operative directions, but be aware that you should not brush or floss the gum line until the area has healed. In the meantime, you should use the special mouthwash your doctor gives you to control plaque during the healing period. Your diet will be restricted to soft foods like Jell-O for the week following a gum grafting procedure. The level of pain varies between patients, but can usually be managed with an anti-inflammatory or in some cases, prescription pain medication.