Gum grafting is a procedure that allows for the replacement of gum tissue lost to recession. Recession occurs when gum tissue shrinks away from certain teeth. It is caused by poor hygiene, aggressive brushing, genetics, smoking, and/or poorly aligned teeth.
Recession results in exposed roots that can be more susceptible to decay and temperature sensitivity. When this thick band of gum tissue is lost, the remaining loose gums and bone can quickly shrink away, possibly leading to future loss of the affected teeth.
During a gum graft procedure, a new piece of tissue is placed over the area of recession and held in place with very fine sutures. With new and advanced techniques in grafting, this is a much more comfortable procedure than it used to be.
1. Success Rate of a Gum Graft Surgery
The success rate of this procedure highly depends on the amount of pressure exerted on the graft post-surgically and the extent of the initial recessive defect. Narrow defects that have intact tissue in between the adjacent teeth, generally have a higher chance of success. Any movement to the grafted tissue during the healing period can affect the efficacy of the surgery. For example, the graft can move by simply stretching your mouth open while trying to look at it.
2. Expected Healing Time
The days following gum graft surgery, the soft tissue will shrink and the swelling will reduce. The tissue binds to the root surface and surrounding bone surface, and begins to mature. Formation of new vessels is the most important part of this process as it ensures blood supply to the newly-grafted soft tissue. Hence wound stability is essential for vascularization (formation of blood vessels).
Generally, soft tissue healing takes between 4 to 8 weeks. The time mainly varies on the size of the surgical site and a patient’s healing capability. Healing takes longer for patients who are immunocompromised or smokers.
3. Post-surgery Diet
The first several days after surgery, you will only be able to eat soft foods. Soups and smoothies are recommended until you are comfortable with solid foods.