What Are Gum Grafts and When Are They Needed?

Published by The Advanced Institute for Oral Health

“Gum graft” isn’t a dental term that’s thrown around as casually as gum disease or dental cleaning, so you might not be as familiar with this procedure or what it entails. When would a periodontist decide to use a gum graft for your dental health?

When Do You Need Gum Grafts?

A gum graft is a surgery that a periodontist might perform if your gums are receding from your teeth. At this point, you would be able to see the root of the tooth because the gum is no longer covering all of it. Having this surgery can stop the recession from continuing; it can also help prevent you from losing some of the bone and losing the tooth, as well as prevent decay. This surgery offers numerous benefits, which include protecting your mouth health, taking care of sensitivity in the tooth and helping you eat comfortably. You also might choose to have this procedure for cosmetic reasons so you can feel positive about your smile.

Gum recession starts in the first place usually because of gum disease. Nonetheless, it can also come about from smoking, brushing your teeth too roughly, hormones or some other potential causes. If your gums are not currently receding — or not receding too far — one way to prevent this problem is to perform proper hygiene in your mouth, according to your
dentist’s recommendations.

What Are Gum Grafts?

When your dentist or periodontist suggests gum grafts, he or she wants to cover up the gum recession you’re experiencing. This surgery takes a piece of tissue, often from your palate, and uses it to cover the root of your tooth. Depending on the condition of your mouth and what your dental specialist feels is best for the look and feel of your gums, he or she may perform a gum graft on one tooth or more.

There are actually three different types of gum grafts that your periodontist could choose from. Most often, he or she will use connective-tissue grafts, which take tissue from underneath the skin on the top of your mouth, for the procedure. Other types are free gingival grafts and pedicle grafts. Free gingival grafts use tissue from the palate skin, instead of tissue from underneath the skin like with connective-tissue grafts. Pedicle grafts, which only work if enough tissue is present, use some of the tissue already around the tooth.

Beyond using your own tissue, your periodontist could instead decide to lean on a tissue bank or use proteins to try to get your mouth to grow back tissue on its own. Your periodontist will discuss with you which type of gum graft is best in your situation.

About the Procedure

Gum graft surgery is not too major a dental procedure. Nonetheless, you might have some pain and discomfort after it, although your particular surgery can change the aftereffects you experience. For example, having a sedative for the procedure will require you to have another person bring you home, whereas you should be able to drive yourself if you skip the sedative. Also, you would experience more discomfort and healing time if you have skin tissue taken from the roof of your mouth for the procedure.

It’s a smart idea to talk to your periodontist before the procedure about the pros and cons of the different gum graft types and what you could expect during and after your surgery. Your specialist will give you recommendations about taking care of your mouth and eating afterward, and might offer prescription pain medication or suggest you take an over-the-counter type.

How to Know If You Need a Gum Graft

You might notice some gum recession when you check your mouth in the mirror from home, yet the only way to truly know if a gum graft procedure is necessary is to have your mouth looked at by a periodontist. Dr. Jason Primm is a leading periodontist in Nashville TN who can check your mouth health and advise you on whether gum grafts are the answer to your receding gumlines. Click here or call to make an appointment at (615) 370-9486.