Soft tissue grafting is a surgical procedure used to replace or re-grow gum tissue which has been lost due to aggressive brushing or a natural recession that’s occurred. A gum graft is necessary when an excessive amount of the root of one or several teeth is exposed. The tooth or teeth may be sensitive to touch or temperature. Untreated recession can be very severe and result in tooth loss if not addressed.
Gum grafting is designed to restore the tissue, and in some cases appearance, where advanced recession has occurred. The main goal of treatment is to thicken the tissue to resist further recession. A secondary goal is to replace and restore the tissue to its original form for appearance purposes. Complete restoration of the gum to its original position may not be possible in certain cases. A synthetic membrane or natural tissue may be used as part of the procedure.
Gum graft surgery is performed under local anesthetic, and can be combined with sedation at the patient’s request. The target area is thoroughly cleaned of all plaque, tartar and inflamed tissue. The roots are also disinfected with a special medicine. The gums are then opened to allow the grafted material to be placed. The gums are then repositioned to cover the graft and the entire tooth root. The gums are then stitched into place. Specific home care instructions are provided to ensure success.
The graft material may be a synthetic membrane or can be taken from the palate. The synthetic materials are very effective and often used to prevent a second surgical site.
What Pain Could I Experience?
The discomfort following gum grafting is comparable to having a tooth removed. Any discomfort is managed with pain medications such as Advil, Tylenol or Tylenol 3. In fact, most patients take pain medication immediately after the procedure and find that it becomes unnecessary as early as the next day. Some amount of swelling can be expected along with minimal bruising. Overall, most patients describe the procedure as “much less painful than they expected”.