If your gums are pulling away from your teeth, a condition known as gum recession, you might be afraid to show off your smile. Gum recession also causes pockets to form between the teeth and the gumline, trapping bacteria and increasing the risk for dental problems. With a procedure called gum grafting, it is possible for your dentist, someone from a place like Montillo Dental Associates Braintree, to replace the missing gum tissue with healthy tissue, improving your smile and reducing your risk of tooth loss. If your dentist wants to perform a gum graft, here are 10 things you should know before having the procedure.
1. Will my dentist sedate me before performing a graft?
A dentist usually administers a local anesthetic before performing gum graft surgery. The anesthetic numbs the surgical site, preventing you from feeling pain during the procedure. If you tend to experience a great deal of anxiety when you have dental work, your dentist might agree to sedate you or prescribe anti-anxiety medications for you to take before the surgery.
2. How do I prepare for the grafting procedure?
If you plan to be sedated for the procedure, arrange for someone to drive you home. You will need to eat soft foods for a few days following the surgery, so take time to prepare soups, puddings, or vegetable purees so you don't have to worry about cooking during your recovery. If your dentist prescribed an antibiotic, take it exactly as directed.
3. Where does the tissue used for a graft come from?
Your dentist is likely to remove some tissue from the roof of your mouth and use it to replace your missing gum tissue. If you don't have enough healthy tissue, you might have to get a graft made from synthetic tissue or human tissue procured from a tissue bank.
4. What should I expect during the procedure?
After administering a sedative or local anesthetic, your dentist will cut a piece of tissue from the roof of your mouth. If you are receiving a graft made of synthetic tissue or donor tissue, you won't have to go through this step. Then your dentist will place the tissue graft over your damaged gums and stitch it into place. Your dentist might put a piece of mesh between the graft and your natural gumline to encourage the grafted tissue to grow.
5. Will I have any pain after the graft?
It is not unusual to experience discomfort after a gum graft. If your dentist took tissue from the roof of your mouth, it might feel like you burned your mouth on a hot beverage. Over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers are used to control pain during the recovery period. If the medication prescribed doesn't alleviate your discomfort, don't hesitate to tell your dentist.
6. How long does it take to recover from a grafting procedure?
It takes approximately four to eight weeks to completely heal from gum grafting surgery.
7. Is there anything I can do to speed the healing process?
In addition to taking all medications as prescribed, you can help your graft heal by putting an ice pack on your cheek for approximately 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Avoid rinsing your mouth, using a straw to drink, chewing tobacco, or smoking cigarettes and cigars. If your dentist tells you to apply dressings to the graft, do so as directed. One of the best things you can do is leave the graft alone; don't touch it with your tongue or your fingers.
8. Will I need to take time off from work?
You should be able to go back to work on the day following your gum surgery. If you frequently talk on the telephone or do a lot of public speaking, you might want to give your graft a few extra days to heal before you return to your normal activities.
9. What are the benefits of getting a gum graft?
Getting a gum graft can help you prevent bone loss and minimize the risk of losing your teeth. The graft tissue protects exposed tooth roots, preventing tooth decay from ruining your smile. Gum grafts will also improve the appearance of your smile and reduce tooth sensitivity.
Gum surgery sounds scary, but it is actually a relatively straightforward process. If you are concerned about your upcoming procedure, ask your dentist to provide more information to put your mind at ease.