7 Gum Graft Surgery Recovery Tips

A receding gum line can be caused by genetics, aging, long periods of improper brushing, or gum disease. Unfortunately, gum recession is not limited to those with natural teeth; if you have dental implants, All-on-4 implants, or dentures and you’re not religious with your dental hygiene, it can affect you, too.

The fastest and most successful way to combat a receding gum line is gum graft surgery. This procedure can be performed tooth by tooth or in one sitting, based on the advice of your periodontist and your personal schedule. Gum graft surgery is a fairly common and simple procedure that should not keep you off your feet for more than two or three days.

What Is Gum Graft Surgery?

During gum graft surgery, your periodontist takes gum tissue from your palate or another area of your mouth and uses it to cover the root of the exposed teeth, dentures, dental implants, or All-on-4 implants. This can be done for a single tooth or a set of teeth in a day. Gum graft surgery will help alleviate gum and tooth sensitivity as well as have cosmetic benefits such as reducing the “long-in-the-tooth” effect, helping your smile look young and healthy.

There are three types of gum graft surgery:

  • Connective tissue graft. This is the most common procedure. This method involves cutting a flap at the roof of your mouth and removing the tissue just beneath. This tissue is then stitched to the receding areas.
  • Free gingival graft. Similar to the connective tissue graft but used for patients with thinner gums who need additional tissue. With this method, tissue is removed directly from the palate instead of from under a flap.
  • Pedicle graft. During this type of gum graft surgery, tissue is taken from the gums near or around the receding area. A flap is cut from the healthy gums and stretched over the receding gum line, then stitched into place.

Recovery Tips

You can expect your gums to take up to two weeks to heal fully, so during this time it’s crucial that you follow your doctor’s directions. You’ll be able to go home after the procedure, but depending on the type of anesthetic your periodontist uses, you may need to have someone drive you home.

Along with your doctor’s instructions, you’ll want to follow a few or all of these recovery tips.

Use Ice and Pain Medication

Use ice packs and pain medication to manage the swelling and pain caused by the procedure. Ice should be applied in 20-minute intervals for the first 24 hours after your gum graft surgery. Ask your periodontist if over the counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medication is best for you.

Avoid Talking

Talking can stretch your mouth and jar the gauze loose. For the first 2 to 3 days, avoid speaking unless absolutely necessary.

Do Not Plan Anything for At Least Three Days

You should be able to resume light activity and even return to work after the first 24 hours, but because you’ll be eating less and should avoid talking, it’s best to stay home and off your feet for at least three days if possible.

Avoid Playing with the Dressing

Many of us have a tendency to probe and poke cuts or bruises, especially in our mouths. It’s important that you avoid doing this so the dressing can protect the wound and enable clotting to begin. Let your dressing do its job and then fall off by itself.

If you experience excessive bleeding that does not subside after applying mild pressure for 20 minutes, call you periodontist immediately. Another helpful method is to hold a tea bag to the wound, as the tannic acids in the tea promote clotting.However, do not use this in lieu of notifying your doctor.

Eat Soft Foods

Start with a liquid diet for the first day or two. Try sticking to soups and smoothies or well-blended food at room temperature to avoid heat or cold shock. Cut any non-liquid foods into very small pieces.

Here are some examples of recommended foods:

■ Oatmeal■ Soft tofu
■ Soft fish■ Applesauce
■ Eggs■ Jell-O
■ Yogurt■ Ice cream

Stay away from hard fruits or fruits with small seeds. The seeds can become lodged in the dressing or the wound itself, complicating your recovery. Do not eat toast, chips, cookies, hard or sticky candy, or similar foods.

Be Careful when Brushing

You may brush the side of your mouth away from the procedure site. Avoid brushing the teeth, dentures, dental implants, or All-on-4 implants near the gum graft surgery, especially for the first day or two. You periodontist will provide you with a special rinse for the surgery area that will help to prevent plaque until you’re able to brush the area. This can be used after the initial 24 hours.

Don’t Overexert

For the first week after your gum graft surgery, you’ll want to avoid overexerting yourself. This means keeping your movements to a minimum. Exercise can heighten the effects and probability of swelling, bruising, and bleeding.

If you would like to speak with Implants and Periodontics about gum graft surgery, dentures, dental implants, All-on-4 implants, or the Teeth in a Day procedure, contact us to schedule a consultation.

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