Good oral hygiene is essential to healthy gums. When gum problems arise, such as gum recession, it can affect your oral health and your appearance. Receding gums result in the gum tissue wearing away and leaving your tooth roots exposed and vulnerable to root decay. These nerve endings often leave you with tooth sensitivity from temperature extremes when you eat or drink hot and cold items. In addition, you can find the difference between your roots and the tooth enamel more noticeable.
The issue with gum recession is that it often develops slowly over time, so you may not even be aware it is happening. This is why seeing a dentist regularly can help spot the signs and symptoms during your annual exam and address whether or not you have gum recession. Left untreated, gum recession can lead to tooth loss!
Signs of Gum Disease
- Red, swollen and tender gums that are bleeding
- Receding gums
- Chronic bad breath or taste
- Teeth that feel loose
- Pus around teeth and gums
Gum Graft to the Rescue
In order to treat this problem, you may need a gum tissue graft – also called a gingival graft – and this dental surgery can improve your smile’s appearance and protect the exposed tooth by stemming the effects of receding gums. This quick and simple treatment allows our periodontist to take healthy gum tissue from your palate (roof of your mouth) or nearby healthy gum tissue and then affix it to the areas of worn away gum tissue, building it up and correcting receding gums.
Three Types of Gum Grafts
- Connective tissue graft: A small flap is opened in the palate and a section of connective tissue is taken out under the top layer of the tissue. Next, it is attached to the area needing the additional tissue.
- Free gingival graft: A small section of tissue is removed from your mouth and attached to the area requiring gum tissue.
- Pedicle graft: A flap of plentiful tissue next to the receding gums is created to cover the receding gum tissue.
Post Gum Graft
To ensure your comfort, you will be given local anesthesia to numb the area where the procedure will be done so you will need to have someone drive you to and from your appointment. You’ll want to stick to healthy beverages (water, juice, milk, etc.) and soft foods (eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.) the first week or two of your recovery period while the graft heals.
Ultimately, a gum graft can help strengthen gums protecting a tooth, diminish gum recession from teeth, lessen sensitivity by covering exposed tooth roots, and improve your smile’s appearance.
To protect your gum tissue, brush your teeth gently using a soft-bristled toothbrush (you really don’t need to aggressively scrub). You do want to keep bacterial plaque from collecting on the enamel and around the gum line, but a daily oral hygiene routine, coupled with biannual dental cleanings, can easily take care of that without damaging gum tissue.
If you have any questions about gum recession or suspect you have gum disease, our periodontal team is here to help! Just give us a call and we are happy to schedule your appointment with our skilled periodontist. We are here to help you maintain your healthy, beautiful smile!