What to Expect in a Gum Graft Procedure

Now that we’ve gone over why you might need gum graft surgery, let’s discuss what you can expect during said procedure.

Depending on the periodontist and his or her policies, what anesthesia you receive will vary. Some will only numb the areas directly, some will offer IV anesthesia, and some will offer relaxing meds on top of the anesthesia. The relaxers could be nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or prescription tranquilizers for the patient to take before the procedure, such as Valium.

There are three different types of gum grafts. Since not every patient has the same condition for needing a gum graft, not every patient needs the exact same procedure.

Connective Tissue Grafts

Connective tissue grafts are the most common grafts performed. Gum tissue is extracted from the roof of your mouth and then literally grafted to the gum tissue that surrounds the exposed roots. The tissue extracted from the roof of your mouth does not leave a permanent dent in your palate. When extracting, the periodontist first cuts out a flap of tissue, and after the tissue is remove, the flap is stitched back in place.

Free Gingival Grafts

Free gingival grafts also use palate tissue, but in this case, tissue is removed directly from the roof of the mouth instead of cutting out a flap first. This method extracts more tissue from the palate than the connective tissue graft, and is generally performed on patients who have genetically “thin” gums and need the extra tissue to “thicken” the gums.

Pedicle Grafts

The graft tissue for pedicle grafts comes from the gums around or need the tooth that needs treatment instead of from the roof of the mouth. In this case, the periodontist will create a flap–called a pedicle–from the gums and then pull it over the exposed root and stitched in place. This can only be performed on patients who have a lot of gum tissue.

There is also the possibility that the graft tissue can come from a tissue bank instead of extracting from your own palate. In some cases, tissue-stimulating proteins can be used to prod your body into naturally growing your own gum tissue. It all depends on your unique situation and what your dentist and periodontist think will work best for you.

Next week…recovering from a gum graft surgery.

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