Gum grafting is the surgical method used for repairing receding gums, especially when the roots of the teeth get exposed due to gum recession. Gum recession can give rise to several problems, including tooth decay, plaque formation, cavities, and teeth hypersensitivity.
Sometimes, receding gums can also lead to complications like the loss of underlying jaw bones that support the teeth. The gum tissues or gingivae act as a barrier against bacteria, and protect the teeth from trauma or injuries. So, the loss of gum tissues or gum recession exposes the roots and the underlying bones to microorganisms, which can eventually cause cavities, caries, hypersensitivity, and tooth erosion.
Gum recession can be caused by several factors. Sometimes, it can be caused by gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontal disease, while at other times, it can be caused by vigorous brushing, teeth grinding or clenching, over exposure to sodium lauryl sulfate, and not brushing and flossing the teeth regularly. Over a period of time, gum recession can give rise to several complications, as already mentioned in this article.
To prevent such complications, the gingival graft surgery is performed, where the receding gum tissues are repaired to prevent further recession, and cover the exposed roots of the teeth. In this surgery, a surgeon removes some tissues from the roof of the mouth or the palate, and then places and sutures them to the receding gum lines. Sometimes, the surgeon can remove the surface skin of the roof of the mouth along with the connective tissues, and relocate them to the affected areas.
However, this procedure can leave behind an exposed wound at the donor site, which can be quite painful. Therefore, a surgeon usually removes the connective tissues that lie in between the surface tissues of the roof of the mouth and the bone. For this, the surgeon makes an incision and collects the connective tissues from the undersurface of the palatal tissues. This procedure produces less pain, and even the wound is much smaller.
Healing or recovery can take considerable time. Pain and swelling can be experienced following the surgery. As far as the healing of the wound at the donor site (roof of the mouth) is concerned, it depends on how deep the wound is, i.e., how much tissue has been taken from the area. In some instances, one can experience a lot of bleeding from the site from where the graft has been taken.
The newly grafted tissues on the receding gums slowly bind to the roots and the bone surface. Eventually, new blood vessels are formed in the area. But sometimes, the initial graft may not work, which can necessitate additional surgeries. In such a situation, the entire process of recovery can take considerable time. But in general, one can expect to recover within 4 to 6 weeks.
Like other surgical procedures, it can give rise to certain complications, such as infections, and severe swelling and inflammation. Sometimes, the sutures can loosen, which can displace the graft. Occasionally, tissues can also get sloughed off from the palate. In addition to these, some other possible complications associated with this surgical procedure are, pain in the jaw joint, difficulty in opening the mouth following the surgery, tooth sensitivity, and looseness of the teeth.
The risks of developing such complications can be reduced to a great extent by following the post-operative care and the precautionary measures suggested by the surgeon. The entire recovery process depends on a number of factors including the number of sessions required. In case of additional surgeries, the cost can rise considerably.
If done properly, the gum graft surgery can prevent further recession of the gums, and the complications associated with a receding gum line. However, it is better to have a talk with an expert surgeon to know more about the various aspects of the surgery, like the chances of success, possible complications, cost, as well as the post-operative care, before opting for this surgical procedure.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.