Soft Tissue Grafting: Procedure, Aftercare & Reasons
Receding gums can represent a real threat to the beauty of your smile, but they are not only a cosmetic factor. Recessing soft tissue (gum tissue), gaps, and more exposed teeth can become a cradle for bacteria and infections! Soft tissue grafting is a simple, straightforward intervention that your dentist can perform in a matter of hours to restore your smile and oral health.
While many adults might be intimidated by such dental practices, understanding what soft tissue grafting is and what it can do for you might convince you otherwise. Read on to find all the information you need, or contact Godley Station Dental.
What Is Soft Tissue Grafting?
When looking for a solution to receding gums, your dentist might recommend you to undergo a gum tissue graft. Soft tissue graft or gum graft is a straightforward surgical operation that will correct receding grafts. Your dentist or periodontist (gum specialist) will do so by removing a piece of soft tissue from the roof of your mouth or creating a flap that will cover the exposed portion of the tooth.
Gum recession might be an apparent cosmetic issue that can make your smile look unhealthy or uneven. However, it is also a health problem that can expose the tooth’s root surface. This exposure can make it more prone to abrasion, bacteria, decay, and infections. Usually, the operation does not last longer than 1.5 hours, and you may go home shortly after.
Soft tissue grafting is a safe and simple procedure that has been tried and tested over time. However, if you are unsure whether this is the right choice for you, speak to Dr. Allen at Godley Station Dental. He can help answer any questions you may have.
Types of Gum Grafting and Procedures
There are several types of gum grafting procedures. The main difference between them is the source of soft tissue to remedy gum recession. You and your dentist will decide on the best type of procedure for your needs before the surgery date.
In terms of the surgery, your dentist will recommend how to prepare yourself in the best way. However, some points to remember include:
- You won’t need to change your diet.
- You might need to arrange a lift home (pain medications, discomfort, and the consequences of anesthesia might make it unsafe for you to drive.)
- If you and your doctor have opted for general anesthesia, it might take you longer to go home.
Here are some of the common types of soft tissue grafting.
Free Gingival Graft
Free gingival grafting is the procedure of removing a small piece of soft tissue from the roof of your mouth. Using stitches, your dentist will suture this tissue to the gum area affected by the recession.
The soft tissue extracted from the roof of your mouth is usually more resistant than opening a flap. Therefore, your dentist might recommend this surgical procedure if you are at risk of further gum recession or your gum is particularly thin.
Connective Tissue Graft
Connective tissue grafting is the procedure of opening a small flap on the roof of your mouth. The flap makes available a small portion of connective tissue, which the dentist implants in the area affected by gum recession. This operation is less invasive than free gingival graft, and it is one of the most common ones.
Pedicle grafting is the least invasive procedure that covers a less severe gum recession. This option is available only if the surgeon is able to create a flap in the gum near the area affected by gum recession. Therefore, you will need to have plenty of soft tissue in the area.
Pedicle grafting refers to the practice of creating a small flap in the gum portion next to the one suffering from the recession. The flap is then opened to cover the exposed part.
This surgical procedure is the most successful because it does not transplant tissue from one area to another. Therefore, it does not cut off blood flow within the soft tissue graft.
Benefits of Soft Tissue Grafting
Soft tissue grafting can be extremely beneficial to repair a portion of lost soft tissue and recreate a healthy smile. Additionally, over time, the techniques have been refined. In most cases, the graft does not have to be moved from one area of the mouth to another.
Some benefits of soft tissue grafting include:
- It protects the exposed tooth from bacteria and infection
- Reduces the risk of decay and cavities
- Can improve your smile and recreate symmetry in your dental structure
- May create a more suitable environment for other surgical procedures such as dental implants
When Do You Need Soft Tissue Grafting?
Soft tissue grafting is particularly recommended if the root of your tooth becomes exposed or you are at risk of it. However, this surgical intervention also reduces the effects of gum disease and prevents further deterioration of your gum’s soft tissue.
Recovery and Aftercare
The soft tissue grafting procedure is likely to last under two hours – depending on the intervention’s extent. If you and your dentist decide not to use general anesthesia, you may leave the dental practice shortly after the operation.
The recovery period can last between one and two weeks, during which you might experience some discomfort and pain in the area that has been grafted.
Until the graft has healed, it is crucial that you:
- Eat only soft foods such as yogurt, cooked vegetables, ice cream, and scrambled eggs.
- Opt for cold foods that won’t burn or irritate your gums
- Avoid brushing or flossing the area of the graft as this can open the wounds and cause cuts and infections.
- Use antimicrobial mouthwash to prevent infections and plaque build-up
- You might use over-the-counter pain medications
Your dentist will give you an appointment one or two weeks after the surgery. During this visit, the dentist will remove the stitches and check that the graft is healthy and healing correctly.
How Can Godley Station Dental Help?
Soft tissue grafting is a straightforward procedure that can give you back the beauty and health of your smile. This simple operation might be all you need to prevent further gum recession and the risk of infections, decay, and cavities. If you wish to know more about soft tissue grafting, get in touch with Godley Station Dental today.