As a certified periodontal surgeon, laser dentist and dental implant specialist, Arcadia Perio performs dental procedures in his private practice in Arcadia, California, frequently does connective tissue grafting for his patients. Gum or tissue grafting restores the body’s natural protection of the teeth, lowering the risk of disease and further gum loss. Gum and tissue grafting can help return the month to a normal, healthy state.

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Why would you need a gum or tissue graft?

The gingiva, what most people call their gums, serves as a barrier that stabilizes and protects your teeth. Over time, that barrier starts to recede even for people with healthy gums. As the receding sets in, you lose some of that natural protection, exposing teeth to bacterial penetration and damage. A receding gum line exposes the sensitive roots of the teeth where the enamel is soft and easier to break.

When the receding becomes severe, a graft can offer a way to reconstruct the barrier to keep teeth safe. A gum graft also helps protect the bone by keep bacteria from eating away at it. The gum graft improves the way your teeth look and feel, as well. It can eliminate some the sensitivity that comes with eating or drinking something hot or cold, for example, and reduce your risk of losing your natural teeth.

How does the graft work?

There are three types of gum grafts, but the most common are the connective tissue graft. The surgeon cuts a flap in the roof of your mouth and removes tissue from under it. That tissue is then stitched into the receding gum. In some cases, donor tissue is grafted on. The tissue absorbs the graft and then generates new tissue, filling in what is missing.

How long is the recovery period after a graft?

The graft is an outpatient procedure, so there’s no hospital stay. You go home immediately after the surgery. You might need someone to drive you home, since you may be drowsy from the anesthesia or sedative.

Once home, you should follow a soft food diet for about 1 week as your mouth heals. If the graft tissue was taken from your palette, there might be some discomfort as that site heals. You might even consider taking a few days off work, especially if you talk a lot as part of your job. You can resume most activities very quickly, though. Call Dr. Fuentes and Dr. Peterson’s office if you notice swelling, bleeding, or the pain worsens over time.

Is the gum graft permanent?

With proper oral hygiene, the graft is permanent. You’ll want to make regular appointments to make sure your gums remain healthy. If you develop periodontal disease, they’ll recede again.