Reviewed by Dr. Kerri Font, DDS

Gum recession is a common dental issue that can lead to tooth sensitivity, root exposure, and even tooth loss

If you have gum recession, you could be the right candidate for a gum graft procedure. I know-it sounds scary, and you’re probably wondering: Is a gum graft painful? 🫢

In this blog, we take a look at the gum graft procedure, what to expect during and after, and tips for a smooth recovery.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

Gum grafting is typically painless because local anesthesia is used. It’s normal to experience some discomfort or pain in the days following the surgery. The level of pain you will experience in the days following the surgery will vary greatly by individual and the type of graft that was used.

What Is a Gum Graft?

A gum graft, or gingival graft, is a surgical procedure to treat gum recession. The procedure involves taking healthy gum tissue, often from the roof of the mouth or a tissue bank, and transplanting it to areas where the gum has receded.

Types of Gum Grafts

At your initial consultation, your periodontist will identify the most appropriate type of gum graft. The different types include:

  1. Connective tissue graft: The most common type. Tissue is taken from the palate and stitched over the exposed roots. 
  2. Free gingival graft: Similar to the connective tissue graft, it involves removing tissue directly from the palate.
  3. Pedicle graft: Uses tissue from the gum near the tooth needing repair, stretching it over the exposed area.
  4. Allograft: Tissue is taken from a donor, typically harvested from a cadaver.

The Gum Graft Procedure: What to Expect

During the Procedure

  • Anesthesia: Local anesthesia will be used to numb the treatment area. For those anxious about the procedure, nitrous oxide can help ease nerves.
  • Surgery: A small flap is created in the gum to expose the tooth roots, and they are thoroughly cleaned. Next, tissue will be harvested from the roof of your mouth. If the tissue is from a donor, this step is skipped. 
  • Transplantation: The harvested gum tissue will then be carefully stitched over the exposed tooth roots.

Pain Level During the Procedure

Most patients report minimal pain during the gum graft surgery due to the anesthesia. Some might feel slight pressure or pulling but not severe pain.

Recovery and Discomfort Management

Hours After Surgery

  • Numbness: Your mouth may remain numb for a few hours after surgery.
  • Bleeding & swelling: You may experience minor bleeding and swelling, which is a normal initial response.

Days After Surgery

  • Pain management: Over-the-counter pain medication or prescribed medication can help you manage any discomfort.
  • Special mouth rinse: Use the recommended mouth rinse to keep the surgical site clean.
  • Dietary guidelines: Avoid hot foods and opt for cool, soft foods to avoid irritating the graft site. Stick to a soft food diet for the first few days to prevent damaging the new graft.
  • Physical activity: Avoid strenuous activity for at least 5 days after surgery.

1-2 Weeks After Surgery

  • Oral hygiene: Maintain gentle oral hygiene practices to support healing and prevent periodontal disease.
  • Regular check-ups: Follow-up visits are crucial to monitor the graft’s success and your oral health.

Long-Term Healing Process

  • Minimal discomfort: Most patients experience minimal discomfort after the initial recovery period.
  • Healthy tissue: The graft eventually integrates with the surrounding gum tissue, improving gum health and appearance.
  • Success rates: Grafts have a high success rate when post-surgery care instructions are followed diligently.

Tips for a Smooth Recovery

  • Rest: Take it easy for a couple of days post-surgery.
  • Diet: Eat soft, cool foods and avoid hot or spicy food. 
  • Lifestyle: Do not drink alcohol or carbonated beverages. Do not smoke tobacco or marijuana, chew tobacco or vape for 2 weeks post-surgery.
  • Pain management: Use over-the-counter pain medication as directed by your dental professional.

Your Gum Graft Specialists in Highlands Ranch

Gum grafting is a safe and effective procedure that can improve the health and appearance of your smile. 

If you have gum recession or have been diagnosed with periodontal disease, don’t wait to seek treatment. Our experienced periodontists at Highlands Ranch Periodontics are here to help restore your oral health and confidence. 

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

Additional Resources

Check out these blogs to learn more about gum recession and periodontal health:

Categories: Periodontics