To perform a gum graft, your dentist at dental office Astoria, NY removes healthy skin from another place in your mouth or uses synthetic tissue. The donor tissue helps repair receding gums that occur from gum disease. Gum graft surgery is always a last resort. Gum grafting is simple and safe when performed by a trained family dentist.
Our dental team ensures your comfort and safety during all dental procedures and always concentrates on your ultimate dental health first. They also practice cosmetic dentistry, so if you need any follow-up procedures to improve your appearance after gum grafting, you can get them done at the same place.
Why Do I Need a Gum Graft?
Gum graft surgery is one of the best methods used to treat damaging gum disease. Periodontitis first begins with gingivitis, which is a milder form of gum disease. It usually causes gum inflammation and bleeding, which you might notice when you brush. Maintaining regular checkups and cleanings is the first line of defense against developing serious gum disease complications that require gum graft surgery.
You can take measures yourself because inflammation and receding gums often is exacerbated by brushing too strenuously or by using a hard-bristled toothbrush. In its early stages, periodontitis is the result of bacteria built up around your gum line.
Common Risk Factors for Gum Disease
Pay attention to your dental health so you can catch the early warning signs of gingivitis. If you start to develop sensitivity to hot and cold food and beverages, you may be in the early stages. Loose teeth, bad breath, bleeding gums, and pain when you chew are gum disease signs that you should tell your dentist about. The CDC reports other common risks that could make you more susceptible to periodontitis. These are:
- Having crooked teeth, because it’s more difficult to remove bacteria from hard-to-reach places
- Wearing dentures that don’t fit well and cause abrasions in your mouth
- Getting a bridge that doesn’t fit the space well
- Continuing to smoke or abuse alcohol or drugs
- Having some kind of immune system deficiency
- Inheriting a tendency for gum disease
Adjust your regular dental hygiene regimen according to your dentist’s instructions. Get additional treatments, like a deep cleaning procedure that removes plaque from under your gums. Take antibiotics if an infection is present. If the disease isn’t relieved by these efforts, or if your gum recession is too severe, then you may need to undergo gum graft surgery.
The Basics of Gum Graft Surgery
Our dentist has access to state-of-the-art gum graft techniques. And while a local anesthetic is usually enough to keep you comfortable during the process, he also offers modern sedation dentistry if you’re very sensitive to pain or overly anxious about the procedure.
You don’t have to do anything special before you arrive at the dentist’s office. You should, however, make arrangements for a ride home because you may feel groggy after sedation.
Once you’re comfortable, small layers of skin are removed and stitched into place where the gum graft fills in your gums back to a healthy state. The end result, after you recovery from the surgery, is a better-looking smile and prevention from further deterioration.
Gum Graft Recovery
Gum graft recovery doesn’t take long at all. To help with any pain after the procedure, your dentist can give you a prescription for pain medication. Eating a diet of mainly soft foods helps keep discomfort at bay. You get a special anti-bacterial mouthwash to aid your healing. Follow your dentist’s directions so that gum disease doesn’t return.
Complications rarely happen, but a surgical procedure can lead to an infection or allergic reaction to materials used. Notify your dentist immediately if you have any unusual pain or other problems.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Gum Graft Surgery?
Gum Graft Surgery (also called Gingival Graft Surgery) is necessary to protect your teeth from gum recession, which is also known as Gingival Recession. Gum recession occurs when the gum tissue surrounding the teeth shrinks back or wears away, exposing more of the tooth, or the tooth’s root. As a result your teeth start to look longer (i.e., a “toothy” smile) and you may experience sensitivity to hot and cold. You may even have pain as more of your tooth and its root become exposed. Eventually, gums can recede so much that tooth roots are almost completely exposed. This robs them of nutrients and leaves them open to attack by bacteria, ultimately leading to decay and removal.
Surprisingly, gum recession is fairly common among many Americans. It’s estimated that 5-10% of adults are afflicted with this problem, which can often go unnoticed until it becomes severe.
During Gum Graft Surgery, Dr. Bokser addresses the problem by taking tissue from the roof of your mouth and attaching it to remaining gum tissue to cover the exposed root. This can be done for one tooth or several teeth and will result in a more even gum line. The procedure will also reduced sensitivity as well as help prevent further loss of gum tissue.
What Are the Causes of Gum Recession?
Receding gums may be caused by the following factors, or a combination of these factors:
- Aggressive brushing can traumatize the tissue and lead to permanent damage.
- Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a bacterial infection that can destroy the connective fibers and create pockets between the gums and the teeth.
- Smoking or any kind of tobacco use has devastating effects on the entire oral cavity. Chewing tobacco in particular, aggravates the gingival lining of the mouth and causes gum recession if used continuously.
- Poor oral hygiene, such as poorly performed or neglected brushing and flossing, can result in a plaque build up and begin to affect the teeth. The plaque contains various bacterial toxins which can promote infection.
- Tongue and lip piercings which can rub and irritate the gums, wearing the gum tissue away.
- Diabetes that is not well managed can negatively affect gum health.
- Genetics, especially if your parents had chronic gum recession from gum disease or misalignment, may be predisposed you to developing similar condition.
What Are the Types of Gum Graft Surgery?
1. Connective-tissue grafts: During this most common grafting procedure, the tissue is taken from the flap of skin at your palate (the roof of your mouth) and then stitched over the area of exposed root.
2. Free gingival grafts: This is similar to connective tissue grafts described above, although the tissue is taken directly from your palate (the roof of your mouth). This method is generally used to thicken naturally thin gums.
3. Pedicle grafts: In this procedure, instead of using tissue from the roof of your mouth, a pedicle graft uses a flap of tissue from the gum of a tooth next to the one with recession. The flap is partially cut away, with one edge still attached. This flap is called a pedicle. It is then slid sideways to cover the exposed root and stitched into place.
What Are the Benefits of Gum Graft Surgery?
Gum grafting is a common periodontal procedure, and can generally improve function as well as the esthetics of your smile.
The major benefits associated with gum grafting are as follows:
- Gum Graft Surgery can help stop the process of gum recession and bone loss, preventing further problems and protecting exposed roots from further decay.
- Gum grafts can help reduce tooth sensitivity, especially to hot and cold foods. When the tooth root becomes exposed, eating or drinking hot or cold foods can cause extreme sensitivity to the teeth. Gum grafting surgery permanently covers the exposed root, helps reduce discomfort, and restores the good health of the gums.
- Gum grafts can result in a more even gum line, making your smile more symmetrical and making the overall appearance more aesthetically pleasing to look at.
Who Typically Gets Gum Graft Surgery?
Gum Graft Surgery is necessary if you have advanced stages of gum recession and it’s been recommended to protect your teeth from further damage or bone loss. You may also choose to have the surgery for cosmetic reasons, i.e., to improve the appearance of your smile.
If you have any questions about Gum Graft Surgery or if you’d like to schedule time to review your options, contact Dr. Bokser today to schedule an appointment.