Reviewed by Dr. Kerri Font, DDS

Reading time: four minutes.

A gum graft surgery, also known as gingival graft, is a periodontal procedure aimed at treating gum recession and protecting exposed tooth roots. 

In our previous blog, “Is a gum graft painful?” we explained the gum graft procedure and what to expect after surgery. 

In this blog, we will guide you through the gum graft healing stages, what to expect post-surgery, and provide tips for a smooth recovery.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

The gum graft healing process begins with initial discomfort and swelling, progressing to gradual healing and reduced swelling. The end result is a complete integration of the grafted tissue with your natural gum line.

Gum Graft Healing Stages: What to Expect

The healing process after gum graft surgery can be divided into several phases:

Initial Phase (First Week)

  • Immediate post-surgery: You may experience some discomfort, swelling, and minor bleeding. An ice pack applied to the area and pain medication can help manage these symptoms. You will have resorbable stitches, which means they will dissolve on their own.
  • Red-pink and white opaque areas: The graft will initially appear red-pink and may develop white opaque areas as it heals. This is normal and indicates the beginning of tissue integration.
  • Dietary restrictions: Stick to soft foods and avoid spicy or acidic foods that can irritate the surgical site.

Healing Phase (Weeks 2-4)

  • Color: If you look at the graft, it may look whitish with pink underneath. However, we ask patients not to look at it for the first 2-4 weeks because the cheek or lip pulls in the wrong direction 
  • Reduced swelling and discomfort: Swelling should decrease, and you’ll likely experience less discomfort.
  • Gradual return to normal activities: You can gradually resume your normal physical activities but should avoid strenuous exercise.
  • Oral hygiene: Continue to practice good oral hygiene. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and be careful around the surgical site. If you are prescribed an antibacterial mouthwash, use it as directed.

Maturation Phase (Months 2-6+)

  • Color: At four weeks to six months, the tissue will look more reddish at first, then will transition to pink, like the surrounding tissues. 
  • Tissue integration: The grafted tissue will continue to integrate with your existing gum tissue. 
  • Final results: You’ll start to see the final results of your gum graft surgery, with improved gum coverage and reduced sensitivity.

What Does a Failed Graft Look Like?

A failed graft may exhibit the following signs:

  • Excessive bleeding: Prolonged or excessive bleeding from the surgical site.
  • Infection: Signs of infection include pain, swelling, redness, or pus.
  • Graft sloughing: The grafted tissue may not integrate properly and become loose or fall off. The graft can appear as a white patch indicating low or lost blood supply.

Gum graft healing before

Gum graft healing after

How Can You Prevent Gum Graft Failure

Here’s what you can do to ensure a smooth recovery and avoid gum graft failure:

  1. Meticulous oral hygiene: Follow your periodontist’s instructions for post-operative care. Do not brush the area of the graft for the first two weeks. Use the antioxidant gel given by your dentist. 
  2. Care when eating and speaking: Do not bite into any foods in the area of the graft for the first month. Minimize facial expressions and talking during the first two weeks. Do not pull on the lip or cheek to look at the graft as it will cause the graft to fail. 
  3. Activity: Minimize activity for the first two weeks.  
  4. Restrict diet: Stick to the recommended diet of soft, non-irritating foods for two weeks. Do not eat chewy foods for the first two weeks. Avoid spicy, acidic, or crunchy foods that could dislodge the graft or disrupt healing. Avoid carbonated beverages and alcohol and drinking through a straw. 
  5. Smoking cessation: Do not smoke for at least 2 weeks post surgery. Smoking severely impairs blood flow, hinders healing, and dramatically increases the risk of gum graft failure.
  6. Follow-up appointments: Attend all regular dental check-ups with your periodontist. These check-ups allow your periodontist to monitor your healing progress, identify any potential issues early on, and make any necessary adjustments to your care plan.
  7. Immediate attention to concerns: If you experience any unusual symptoms, such as excessive bleeding, severe pain, signs of infection, or graft loosening, contact your periodontist immediately. Early intervention can often prevent minor complications from escalating into graft failure.

Healthy Gums With Highlands Ranch Periodontics

At Highlands Ranch Periodontics, our expert team is dedicated to helping you achieve and maintain oral health. Our periodontists specialize in gum graft procedures and are committed to providing personalized care and support throughout your recovery journey.

If you are searching for ‘best periodontist near me’ or ‘gum graft Highlands Ranch, CO’ we can help! Call (303) 683-1144 to book an appointment or complete the online booking form. 


How do you know if your gum graft is healing properly?

The graft should initially appear red-pink and may develop white opaque areas, which is normal. Over time, the grafted tissue will start to integrate seamlessly with your existing gum tissue. Consistent progress in these areas, along with a lack of excessive bleeding or signs of infection, are good indicators of proper healing.

What are the worst days after a gum graft?

The first few days immediately following the surgery are generally the most challenging in terms of discomfort and symptoms. During this initial phase, you may experience significant swelling, pain, and minor bleeding.

Can you ruin a gum graft?

Yes, it is possible to jeopardize the success of your gum graft if you do not follow post-operative instructions or engage in activities that can disrupt healing, such as smoking or consuming irritating foods.

Categories: Periodontics