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Gum Tissue Graft // Gum Tissue Graft Recovery, Before and After

This is a periodontal surgical procedure that helps strengthen thinning and receding gums. The procedure helps cover exposed root surfaces and to reduce sensitivity.

Gum Tissue Grafting

A gum tissue grafting is a type of dental surgery Dr. Coulter performs to correct the effects of gum recession. Another reason for gum tissue grafting is for cosmetic reasons, but most often, a gum tissue graft is necessary to protect the exposed tooth from damage and repair any damage to underlying bone that's already occurred. It is a quick and relatively simple surgery in which a connective tissue graft is used to rebuild the gum tissue.

Gum recession often occurs over a long period of time. As time goes on, the gum tissue slowly wears away, thereby exposing more of the teeth, and often a portion of the root area as well. This results in greatly increased sensitivity, especially when inhaling cold air, or when eating or drinking hot or cold foods. Gum recession is a common dental problem that typically affects up to 12% of adults, often going unnoticed until the condition becomes painful and quite severe.  If left untreated, gum recession can eventually lead to the loss of one or more teeth.

There are several approaches to gum tissue grafts, all of which depends on how severe the damage the teeth, gum tissue or exposed roots. Before starting gum tissue grafting procedures, Dr. Coulter can administer and monitor IV sedation. Once the patient is sedated, the next step is to lift some of the existing gum away, so that the root area of each tooth is exposed for a complete cleaning. With the root area then being clean, one of three different types of grafting approaches are generally selected.  The different types of gum tissue graft surgery are as follows:

Connective Tissue Grafting

In this procedure, Dr. Coulter begins by removing tissue from the roof of the mouth by making a flap, and then continuing by taking tissue from underneath the top layer by stitching the new tissue onto the existing gum tissue, thereby covering exposed root areas.  Next, Dr. Coulter stitches the flap on the roof of the mouth from the location where to new tissue was sourced.

Gingival Grafts

Gingival Grafting is the preferred method for people with thin gums. This method requires extra tissue to enlarge the gums.  In this procedure, Dr. Coulter removes tissue directly from the top layer of tissue on the roof of the mouth, and then immediately stitches this tissue to the existing gum area.


Pedicle Lateral Grafts

Dr. Coulter selects Pedicle Lateral Grafting when a patient has extraneous gum tissue growing very near the exposed tooth.  In this procedure, Dr. Coulter grafts tissue from the gum around or near the tooth requiring treatment and only partially cuts away this tissue, keeping one edge attached while stretching the gum tissue over or down, in order to cover and protect the exposed tooth root, and then holding the gum tissue in place with surgical stitches.

Donor Connective Tissue Grafts

Dr. Coulter may also elect to source the needed gum tissue from a tissue bank, rather than removing gum tissue from the patient's mouth. This is a proven alternative, using donor tissue that’s been cleared of all living cells leaving a connective tissue matrix. This matrix supports the growth of the patient’s own gum cells in the affected area.

Preparing for Gum Tissue Grafting Surgery

Once Dr. Coulter as considered all the options and discussed the details of the procedure with the patient, there's not much the patient needs to do to prepare for the gum tissue grafting procedure.  However, Dr. Coulter requires a family member or friend to be available to drive the patient to and from the appointment.  This is important because the anesthetic and pain medication used manage any discomfort makes it unsafe for a patient to drive.

Patients can go straight home after the procedure, and Dr. Coulter will provide all the instructions needed to help ensure the gum tissue grafting heals successfully.


Recovery from Gum Tissue Grafting

Once the procedure is complete, any pain and discomfort associated with grafting will vary. If Dr. Coulter sources gum tissue from a tissue bank, patients often experience minimal pain. If gum tissue is sourced from the roof of the mouth, the patient may experience discomfort for a few days.  The healing process in this instance often takes one to two weeks for the mouth to heal fully but may take longer depending on patient behaviors. Most patients are comfortable with use of over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. Alternatively, Dr. Coulter may recommend prescription medications to help manage patient discomfort.  Most patients can return to work the following day.

Dr. Coulter recommends that patients avoiding flossing or brushing at the treatment area by using a special mouthwash which controls plaque build-up.  In some cases, the use of antibiotics is advisable in order to reduce any potential risk of infection.  Dr. Coulter recommends avoiding strenuous exercise, avoiding hard foods, and otherwise encouraging eating soft, cool foods such as ice cream, pasta, eggs, yogurt and soft cheese.  Patients are encouraged to avoid smoking.

After the procedure, teeth may feel a little more sensitive than usual, particularly to hot and cold foods, so Dr. Coulter recommends that patients use desensitizing toothpaste and mouthwash.

Dr. Coulter will often schedule a follow-up appointment after gum tissue grafting surgery to ensure that the healing process is progressing. In some cases, he may remove any residual stitches, if necessary.  Within two weeks of tissue grafting surgery, the gums will look and feel tighter, firmer and healthy.

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