If your dentist tells you that you require a gum graft, just stay calm. Sure, it is a gum surgery, but you have nothing to worry about. It may be necessary to control the damage that gum recession may have been inflicting on your teeth. The procedure may also be done to improve your smile.
When gum recession happens, the tissues surrounding your tooth pull away, exposing your tooth more, or its root. This may damage the supporting bone. A common dental problem, gum recession affects around 4 to 12% of adults. It is usually left undetected until the condition worsens.
Since it is a gradual process, you may not notice that your gums are receding. Over time, however, when you already have a tooth root exposed, you may experience tooth sensitivity, particularly when ingesting hot or cold food; not to mention it does not look good. Gum recession will eventually lead to tooth loss. A gum tissue graft may be done to control the damage, and keep the issue from further escalation.
Now, what happens during the gum graft procedure and after?
There are three kinds of gum tissue graft that can be performed. The recommendation of your dentist on which type to use depends on your particular needs. These include:
Connective Tissue Grafts
This is the most common treatment for root exposure. A skin flap is cut from your palate (roof of the mouth). Tissue (subepithelial connective tissue) is taken from underneath the flap. It is then stitched into the gum tissue that surrounds your exposed root. The flap is then stitched to close it.
Free Gingival Grafts
Just like a connective tissue graft, a free gingival graft involves using tissue taken from the palate. However, instead of taking tissue from under a flap, tissue is taken directly from the palate to be attached to the affected gum area. This particular method is used on people who have particularly thin gums and require more tissue to make the gums larger.
Instead of getting tissue from the roof of the mouth, this procedure involves grafting from gums near or around the tooth being worked on. The flap or pedicle is just partially cut, with the edge remaining attached. Then, the gum is pulled either down or over to have the exposed root covered, and sewn in place. This method is only used for people who have sufficient gum tissues around the tooth.
Some patients and dentists opt to use graft materials taken from tissue banks instead of from the palate. To encourage the body’s natural bone and tissue-growing ability, a type of tissue-stimulating protein is prescribed. You can ask your dentist which method is ideal for you.