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Gum Grafts

When your gums are receding the gums begin to pull up from the roots of the teeth. This exposes the root surfaces, which are more likely to develop decay because they aren’t covered with enamel, as the upper surfaces of the teeth are. It also makes those areas more sensitive and prone to abrasion. 

A gum graft may be necessary to return necessary gum tissue to cover the exposed roots. Also known as a gingival graft, these procedures are simple surgeries performed by Dr. Slepchik at our downtown Montreal offices. 

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What is a gum graft

A gum graft is exactly like any other graft in the body, whether it is bone grafting to increase jawbone mass or skin grafting to heal a wound. In the gum graft procedure, the gum tissue is taken from the roof of the patient’s mouth or from the nearby healthy gum tissue. It is then attached to the area where the gums have receded. The procedure is simple, and recovery is not difficult. 

Why might I need gum grafting?

Gum grafts are necessary to address receding gums. When your gums recede, this exposes more of the tooth root, which is normally covered by the gums. Now your teeth look longer. Because the roots are exposed, those teeth with gum recession will be more sensitive to hot and cold, and to sweet or spicy foods. Gum recession is frequently the result of gum disease, as the infected gums are forming pockets and pulling away from the teeth. It can also be due to overly aggressive tooth brushing or improper brushing techniques. 

Would I be a good candidate to have gum grafting?

The problem of a receding gum line doesn’t happen overnight. Because of that, many patients don’t realize their gums are beginning to expose the root surface. That’s the purpose of measuring your gum length during your exams and professional teeth cleanings with Dr. Slepchik and your hygienist.

Anyone with gum recession is a good candidate for a gum graft. But if the recession is caused by gum disease, we need to address that before we could perform any grafting. After all, it is the periodontal disease that is causing your gums to recede. If this is mainly due to tartar buildup that is moving under the gumline, we may simply perform some root scaling and root planning to remove the plaque and tartar from your teeth and the root surfaces. This will allow your gums to heal and tighten back down over the roots again. 

Smokers are not good candidates for gum grafting. Smoking makes it harder for the grafts to successfully take. Smokers are four times more likely to develop gum disease when compared with nonsmokers. This is absolutely something to consider in terms of your general health also.

How is a gum graft done with Dr. Slepchik?

These procedures are typically performed in our office. Local anesthesia is used. Depending on your unique needs, Dr. Slepchik will perform your grafting procedure in one of three ways:

  • Free gingival graft — Dr. Slepchik removes a small piece of gum tissue from the roof of your mouth, and this tissue is stitched into a place where needed to cover recession. 

This is not a long dental appointment. Once Dr. Slepchik has sutured your graft into position, you’ll rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash. We’ll then review with you how you need to care for your new gum graft. 

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Is gum grafting permanent?

Once the grafted gum tissue successfully takes to its new locations, these are permanent. As long as you follow a regimen of attentive home oral hygiene your gum grafts will be there for a long time. 

Of course, this doesn’t guarantee that new gum problems cannot develop, but more attentive home care will usually prevent that. 

Are there any foods I will need to avoid after having a gum graft?

You cannot eat or drink anything for three hours after your surgery. From there, you need to eat liquid foods for seven days, moving to soft/liquid foods for the next three weeks. Don’t eat anything that can get caught in the surgery site or tear your stitches. No chips, nuts, rice, popcorn, and the like. Avoid hot foods and drinks and food that requires active chewing while your mouth is still numb. Stay away from hot food and drinks for another two weeks. Protein/nutritional drinks are a good idea, as are smoothies and foods such as yogurt. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. 

Is gum grafting painful?

There is a misconception that these are very painful procedures, but they aren’t. The amount of pain involved in these procedures depends on the type of gum graft we used. If we removed the donor tissue from your palate, you will be uncomfortable for a few days after your surgery. This isn’t sharp pain — it is often equated to the pain if you’ve burned the roof of your mouth with hot pizza — but you’ll probably need some over-the-counter or prescription pain medication, depending on your pain tolerance. This does heal quickly. 

If Dr. Slepchik used a pedicle graft, where tissue is pulled down or over from existing gum tissue above the area of recession, you will have little pain. 


Are there any risks involved with gum grafting?

Complications of gum grafting are rare. On rare occasions, the graft tissue will not fully adapt to the graft site. This would mean that the procedure would have to be repeated.

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If you’re interested in learning more about a graft, please contact us for a consultation at 514-875-7971 or fill out our contact us form. We will discuss your needs and concerns, and determine your best course of action for you.