Is a Gum Graft Right for You?

Gulfside Periodontics of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, can let you know if a gum graft is right for you.

Apart from gingivitis and severe periodontitis, the gums are rarely an issue. However, gums can weaken and leave tooth roots exposed, increasing the risk of cavities and dental hypersensitivity. A gingival recession can also compromise the aesthetic aspect of a person’s smile.

Gum Grafting repairs the thickness of the affected gum. This therapeutic method reinforces the support tissues to protect the teeth and improve the patient’s smile.

Correcting and stopping a gingival recession

The gum covers the tooth root and the alveolar bone, which holds each tooth in place. A gum graft is used to correct and stop gum loss of height or “recession.” Stripping the roots leaves the person more vulnerable to cavities and dental hypersensitivities, both of which can alter the individual’s quality of life.

On the other hand, receding gums will make the teeth seem longer and unattractive. Gingival recession is related to a combination of predisposing factors (alveolar bone shape, poor dental positioning, fine gingiva, age, and so on). There are also triggering factors to be aware of (brushing too hard, tooth grinding, poorly conducted orthodontics, ill-adapted crowns or fillings, etc.).

When it comes to triggers, gingivitis and periodontitis are two main ones to watch for. However, when the periodontium is severely affected, and there is a significant bone loss, a gingival graft alone will not help. The gum does not have enough bone to rely on, so every person is evaluated on a case-by-case basis by a Periodontist and treatment is dependent upon the size of the recession, its impact, and its evolutionary potential.

What does the procedure involve?

Grafting consists of taking a “piece” of gum to cover the roots uncovered by a recession. It is performed under local anesthesia, in a private practice or hospital, and generally does not require time away from work. The procedure takes place in three main stages: preparation, removal, and placement.

To better understand each technique used, a dentist must look at the structure of the person’s gum. The gum consists of two layers of tissue: the surface epithelium and the deep connective tissue. A section of gum that lies at the base of the tooth without adhering to it is called “free.” The lower the height of the attached gum, the faster the person will recover.

The techniques used

The first techniques used were designed to move a flap of gum, adjacent to the recession, to cover it. However, these methods showed poor results in the long term compared to a “real” transplant. To obtain sufficient gingiva thickness, dentists in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, may use a more generous donor site: the palate.

This so-called “epithelial-conjunctive” technique adds gum that stops the recession. The aesthetic result is disappointing because of several differences, in particular, the color between the epithelia of the palate and the gingiva. These grafts can also be slightly painful, but there are options available to limit pain experienced by the patient.

Less painful and more aesthetic transplants

If the first grafting techniques are used for specific indications, there is a third approach that combines them: a graft that involves incising the palate’s epithelium. This graft is positioned at the recession and covered with an adjacent gingival flap. The epithelium is sewn to protect the wound. This technique, which is less “invasive” than the previous one, is also less painful for the donor.

It leaves fewer scars and produces a gum-line that is nearly identical to the adjacent gum. It is the preferred method for people looking to improve their smile or speech. To further reduce pain, the graft can be removed from near the wisdom teeth (when and if they have been removed).

After the surgery

During the first 24-48 hours after surgery, it is advisable to apply ice to the area to limit pain and swelling. In addition, the surgeon may prescribe painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs to help with pain. Bleeding is infrequent and, thus, the patient should not worry about it. Just compress the area with a sterile compress and avoid mouthwashes that could prevent healing.

Afterward, for two weeks, avoid eating and brushing your teeth on the side of the transplant. Mouthwashes help to reduce inflammation and plaque formation. To avoid damaging the graft, it is not recommended to consume hot or hard foods. Smokers should also try to quit before the surgery and not resume even after the healing period is over.

In the best cases, the new gum blends into the old one and attaches to the tooth. Sutures are removed after two weeks. The risk of tissue death sometimes worries patients – and rightly so. However, if the surgery is properly performed, the patient shouldn’t have to worry about anything.

A well-integrated transplant that is aesthetically successful is seen after a few weeks. However, the site continues to evolve for six to twelve months, ultimately producing results that are almost undetectable with the latest transplant techniques.

To find out more about gum grafting and its potential effects, contact Gulfside Periodontics of Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

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