If you have gum recession, don’t panic. Your dentist will likely suggest gum graft surgery. With gum recession, the tooth roots are exposed and could result in your teeth’s root surface becoming susceptible to decay, prone to abrasion and may be more sensitive.
Many individuals don’t even realize their gums are receding since it occurs gradually. Eventually, if left untreated, gum recession can result in tooth loss. To prevent more dental issues and repair the damage, you may need a gum tissue graft.
How to Prepare for Gum Graft Surgery
Once you’ve set your appointment for your gum graft surgery, there are a few preparation steps you need to take which your dentist will go over with you. Some include:
Arrange a Ride
If anesthetics are used during surgery, you might not be able to drive home from your appointment. You’ll want to arrange for a ride home from the clinic.
You may want to bring a person you trust with you to your appointment. They can help listen to the instructions for your post-care since you may be sedated.
Take or Stop Taking Medications Before Surgery
If your periodontal health professional prescribes you any pre-operative medicine, be sure you take them as directed. You may receive an antibiotic pre-medication prescription, which you’ll need to take before your surgery.
Your periodontist may recommend an antimicrobial mouth rinse for you to use one or more times a day. Fill that prescription prior to the procedure if possible, and have a variety of over-the-counter pain relievers, like ibuprofen or naproxen, on hand to help manage the pain
Also, let the surgeon’s office know if you have any sensitivities or allergies (such as skin rashes, hives or more severe allergies) to antibiotics.
If you’re on any blood thinners, such as Coumadin, or are taking aspirin or non-steroidals, such as Motrin or Advil, you may need to stop taking them before surgery for a week or 10 days.
Bring Music to Listen To
You’re welcome to bring your MP3 player or IPod to have some music to listen to during your procedure. The music can help to distract you from the procedure.
Purchase Soft Foods
After your surgery, for the first several days, you will need to eat pulverized, soft foods. So, stock up on these foods before your procedure, so you’ll have them ready to eat when you get home. No alcohol 24 hours before surgery.
Soft Food Suggestions
You may include any or all of these soft food choices to your post-op menu:
- Apple sauce
- Sustacal or ensure
- Mashed potatoes
- Macaroni & Cheese
- Cottage cheese
- Baby food
Avoid the use of straws following your procedure since the suction can disrupt your wound, cause bleeding and affect healing.
What is the Treatment for Gum Graft Surgery?
Gum graft surgery repairs the defect in your mouth and helps prevent any further bone loss and recession. Gum grafts can help develop gum tissue that is missing because of excessive gingival recession and cover roots. There are three types of gum graft surgery:
- Connective-tissue grafts: These are a common grafting surgery the dentist performs to treat one or more recession areas. The dentist takes tissue from a tissue flap from the root of your mouth and stiches it over the exposed root area.
- Free gingival grafts: These are kind of like connective tissue grafts, but the dentist takes the tissue from your palate directly.
- Pedicle grafts: The dentist uses the tissue that is adjacent to your damaged tooth.
The dentist may use medically processed donated human tissue for your graft procedure.
Are There Any Potential Obstacles from Gum Graft Surgery?
Gum graft complications are rare. While uncommon, if you have an infection, see your dentist immediately if you notice any unexpected bleeding or oozing around the graft area.
Also rare, your graft tissue might not adapt to the graft area properly. In this case, your dentist would have to perform the procedure again.
What Happens Post Gum Graft Surgery?
Shortly after your surgery, you should be able to go home. The dentist may require you to wait a couple hours before you leave to recover from sedation and monitor you for any graft issues.
You can resume light physical activity a day or two after your procedure, depending on how you feel. Avoid working out or any heavy lifting for at least three to four days after your procedure.
The periodontist or dentist may suggest using an antimicrobial mouthwash for your first couple of weeks to avoid plaque buildup on your teeth, infections or graft issues. Also, you should avoid brushing or flossing your teeth until your dentist tells you it’s safe to do so since this can lead to opening the wound or causing an infection.
It shouldn’t take more than a couple weeks to fully heal. You’ll have to set up a follow-up appointment with your dentist about a week following your surgery so they can check on your healing and ensure the graft is successful.