Have your gums receded to expose more of your tooth than before? If so, you might be a candidate for gum grafting. Dentists use this procedure to cover up the roots of your teeth to prevent gum disease and improve your smile. Not only do the grafts raise the level of your gums on your teeth, but they can also leave your gums looking pinker and healthier.
Why Gums Recede
Your gums can recede for a variety of reasons. Whenever your gums are injured, it is hard for them to heal properly in the moist environment of your mouth. Periodontal disease or gingivitis can cause bleeding, pain and eventually, tissue loss in your gums. Your gums might also recede following oral surgery.
What Happens When Gums Recede
As your gums recede, you begin to look older and look less attractive. More importantly, your oral health begins to get worse. Bacteria make their way into these pockets, where they can grow rapidly and cause infection in your mouth. When your immune system kicks in, it sends bacteria-fighting cells to your gums. These cells can cause the bone supporting your teeth can wear away, and your teeth can become loose. They eventually fall out if you don’t take care of the problem. Pockets also form where the gums have pulled away from your teeth. Plaque forms more easily there, and you can get cavities below your gum line. Before your dentist can successfully perform gum grafting, the infection must be cleared up.
How Your Dentist Prepares You for Gum Grafting
Once you and your dentist decide it is time to go forward with a gum grafting procedure, your dentist can send you home with a prescription for pain relievers to take before the gum surgery. When you come in for your appointment, your dentist gives you a local anesthetic to numb the area that needs to be grafted.
How Your Dentist Does the Gum Grafting Procedure
At this point, your dentist begins the flap surgery. They cut back the gum tissue that needs to be restored. Then, your dentist pushes or “flaps” back the tissue for deep cleaning. Immediately after the deep cleaning, they apply topical antibacterial medications directly to your teeth and gums.
After your teeth are deep-cleaned and disinfected, your dentist needs to get tissue to replace the gum tissue you have lost. This can come from either the roof of your mouth or from a product called Alloderm that is made from donor tissue. This is usually done at a second appointment. Next, your dentist stitches what will become the new gum tissue below your current gum line and up to your natural gum line.
After the procedure, you will likely experience some pain, which can be relieved with pain medications. Although your gums and teeth will be quite sensitive, it is more important than ever to take good care of your oral hygiene. Be sure to keep your teeth clean, but do it as gently as possible.
What Can Happen After Gum Grafting
Gum grafting can give you a better appearance very soon after the procedure. Your new gum tissue protects your teeth and the bone supporting them. Over time, your body begins to regrow any bone you have lost, making your teeth more stable and secure.