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How Uncomfortable is Gum Grafting? What to Expect

Team Periodontist

If you’re scheduled for a gum grafting procedure, you’re likely wondering what you can expect from the process. As a periodontist, Dr. Marc Gordon specializes in repairing gum recession using gingival grafting and other techniques, so you can feel confident knowing that your treatment is being performed by an expert. Here are the answers to some of the common questions and concerns patients have prior to a gum grafting procedure.

What happens during a gum grafting procedure?

Gum grafting—sometimes also known as soft tissue grafting—involves obtaining soft tissue from another part of the mouth and attaching it to the affected area to cover the exposed root. This graft could be from gum tissue adjacent to the affected tooth (something called pedicle flap), the roof of the mouth, or the back of the mouth. Sometimes we use a coronal pedicle graft, which involves loosening the gum tissue around the receded area and repositioning it over the exposed root. There are also some circumstances in which we may use a donor graft from a tissue bank.

Once the gum graft is stabilized with sutures, we may use Platelet Rich Fibrin (PRF) or Stem Cell-like materials to encourage the tissue to heal and regenerate. Overall, gum grafting is an effective treatment for gum recession with a high success rate.  Using your own tissue is the gold standard which other means of treatment try to achieve.

Is gum grafting painful?

Many patients are concerned about whether gum grafting will be painful. We use local anesthetic to numb the areas where we’re working, which means you won’t experience any pain and most patients feel completely comfortable during their treatment. Although most people only require local anesthetic, if you feel that you would need to be more mentally relaxed, sedative/ anti-anxiety medications can be used including “Laughing Gas” Valium-like medication. We typically will give you a simple plastic covering for the donor area to keep the area comfortable during the first week allowing you to eat and function relatively normally. As the anesthetic wears off in the hours after the procedure, you’ll begin to experience some soreness and sensitivity. We will prescribe medication to help alleviate any discomfort.

Why do I need gum grafting?

Gingival grafting is used to treat gum recession. Whether recession is caused by genetics, gum disease, injury, or simply brushing too aggressively, it’s advisable to repair areas of root exposure for the following reasons:

Cosmetic – Patients with gum recession often feel self-conscious about their smiles, describing their teeth as too long or their gums as uneven. Gum grafting can create a more uniform gum line.

Comfort – When the gums recede, it exposes the roots of the teeth. These newly-exposed roots are often sensitive to hot, cold, and even sweet foods. This can cause discomfort when eating.

Pre-Orthodontic Treatment – Gum recession can become progressively worse during the course of orthodontic therapy and it is often recommended to address the recession issues prior to orthodontic intervention to  prevent more serious recession problems which are more difficult to treat.

Oral Health – Gum recession can compromise your overall oral health. Exposed roots are vulnerable to cavities and if gum recession is severe, it can even cause the teeth to become loose and shift. The bone structure that supports the teeth can begin to break down, leading to tooth loss and a prematurely aged appearance.

Are there alternatives to gum grafting?

Some patients are candidates for the Chao Pinhole Surgical Technique (PST), a less invasive alternative to traditional gum grafts. Dr. Gordon will let you know if PST is right for you during your consultation.

Learn More About Gum Grafting

For a consultation with Dr. Gordon to discuss the best treatment option for your gum recession, contact us today to schedule an appointment.