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Considering a gum graft? Here's what you should know

Has your dentist advised you to get a gum graft? Here are some pointers from our Ottawa dentists on what to expect and how to prepare for this dental surgery.

What should I expect with a gum graft?

If you have gum disease, your gums may recede, leaving the roots of your teeth exposed. This can leave your tooth surfaces more vulnerable to sensitivity, abrasion and decay.

Your dentist may recommend a gingival gum graft to address the condition. In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of the procedure, how to prepare, its success rate, and other aspects to take into consideration.

What is a gingival gum graft?

A gingival gum graft is performed by removing tissue from a patient's palate and grafting (transplanting) it to the area where the gums have receded. In some cases, this technique involves the use of donor tissue.

Benefits of a Gingival Gum Graft

A gingival gum graft can:

  • Protect the tooth against further gum recession
  • Decrease sensitivity in teeth where the gum has worn away by covering the exposed root with new gum tissue
  • Stabilize and strengthen the gum covering a tooth
  • Restore the natural appearance of your smile (depending on the case)

How to Prepare

  • Two appointments are needed for a gum graft: the first to perform the surgery and the second to remove sutures and check that the graft is healing correctly.
  • You do not need to modify your diet or fast before the procedure – just show up at your appointed time.
  • You’ll want to arrange a ride to and from your appointment, as you’ll be taking medication for pain and discomfort, which may make it unsafe to drive.
  • The oral surgeon will use local anesthesia to numb the area affected by the procedure.
  • The procedure typically takes about an hour and a half.
  • Your graft will be sutured, so you’ll need to rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash.
  • You’ll be given care instructions – follow them to ensure your graft heals as it’s supposed to.

The Procedure

Your oral surgeon will take the following steps to perform the gum graft procedure:

Step 1

Local anesthesia is injected at the graft harvesting site (where the tissue will be removed from the palate), and on the area receiving the transplant.

Step 2

The graft tissue is harvested.

Step 3

The tissue will be grafted onto the site where the gum is receding.

Success Rate

The success rate for gum grafts is very high. Typically, the likelihood of success increases considerably when patients brush and floss correctly following the procedure.

Another Option: Pinhole Surgical Technique

The Pinhole Surgical Technique is an alternative option to a gum graft and provides immediate results. This less invasive procedure involves the surgeon poking a small hole in the gum above the tooth or teeth that needs treatment.

The gums are then gently moved down to the correct position using a special instrument. After that, a small angled instrument is used to thread collagen strips or gum graft material through the entry point and under the gums.

Do you have questions about preparing for your gum graft or post-surgical care? Our Ottawa dentists can answer your questions and address any concerns you may have. We may also be able to provide a referral. Contact us today.

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