A Center For Family Dentistry

Gum Grafting Can Improve the Health and Aesthetics of Your Smile

As the gums recede, they expose sensitive dental roots at the base of your teeth, negatively affecting both the health and appearance your smile.  Dr. Keith Kelley can perform a surgical gum graft to protect your teeth, prevent sensitivity, and help you achieve a more symmetrical, aesthetically-pleasing gum line. During the procedure, Dr. Kelley will use tissue harvested from another part of your mouth or donor bank to treat areas where gum recession has occurred. Our team is focused on providing comfortable, individualized care and will plan your custom treatment to help you achieve the best possible results  at our Troy, MI, office

Why Does Gum Recession Occur?  

Gum recession is caused by a variety of factors. Some are preventable, while others are not. The most common causes include: 

  • Gum disease 
  • Overly aggressive brushing techniques 
  • Improper flossing 
  • Untreated bruxism, or teeth grinding 
  • Piercings on the tongue or lip
  • Misalignment

Additionally, if one or both of your parents suffer from receding gums, your risk of the condition is increased. 

Understanding the Procedure

Prior to performing a gum graft, Dr. Kelley will examine the condition of your smile to determine whether a gum graft is necessary. If he detects underlying oral health issues including gum disease and tooth decay, he can treat these in-office prior to performing your gum graft. When planning your procedure, Dr. Kelley will take into account your oral health concerns and overall goals. 

Because a gum graft is considered a surgical procedure, our team will do everything possible to ensure that you are comfortable throughout the treatment. In addition to administering a local anesthetic to numb the treatment area, we can provide oral conscious sedation. This medication can help you feel relaxed during your procedure and ease anxiety. Once you are comfortable, Dr. Kelley will carefully excise tissue from the donor site and suture it in place at the deficient areas. Although the length of your procedure will depend on how many areas need to be treated, most gum grafts can be completed in under two hours.  

Types of Gum Grafts 

There are many types of grafts. Each is aimed at creating a healthier smile and a more symmetrical gum line. Because the outcomes can be highly cosmetic, a gum graft can help you feel more confident in the appearance of your smile. 

There are three popular gum graft techniques. Dr. Kelley will choose which method will work best for you depending on how much gum recession has occurred and your oral health. 

Connective-Tissue Graft 

A connective-tissue graft is the most common type of gum graft. Using this technique, Dr. Kelley will create an incision on the roof of your mouth to access underlying tissue. Underlying tissue will then be removed and transplanted to the area where gum recession has occurred. Dr. Kelley will then close the remaining flap and treatment site with sutures. 

Free Gingival Graft 

If you have thinning gums, Dr. Kelley may recommend a free gingival graft. The technique is similar to a connective-tissue graft, but Dr. Kelley will use the tissue at the roof of your mouth instead of underlying tissue to cover the exposed roots. 

Pedicle Graft

For patients who have plenty of remaining gum tissue and only suffer from recession in a small area, Dr. Kelley may recommend a pedicle graft. During this procedure, he will not use harvested tissue from other parts of your mouth. Instead, he will use gum tissue from a neighboring tooth. After creating a flap in your gums, Dr. Kelley will fold the flap over the exposed tooth root and close the site with sutures. 

Alternatively, many dentists are using donor grafts to perform gum augmentation. During this procedure, tissue is used from a donor bank rather than your own mouth. Instead of two surgical sites, there is only one. This can speed up your overall recovery and reduce your discomfort during the procedure. 

In addition to relieving discomfort and protecting your tooth roots, a gum graft can help your smile look better by creating a more balanced gum line.

Ensuring a Healthy Recovery

We believe patient information is key to successful treatment. As such, we will provide detailed post-operative instructions following your procedure. To achieve a healthy, successful recovery, it is important that you closely follow our recommendations, such as:

  • Elevating your head during sleep or rest for the first few days after your surgery
  • Avoiding strenuous activities or exercise for the first few days, as these can increase bleeding at the treatment site 
  • Only eating soft foods for the first week after surgery
  • Avoiding chewy, crunchy, or hot foods, as these can cause your sutures to reopen 
  • Not brushing or flossing the area around your treatment site until it is fully healed 

If you notice any signs of infection such as bleeding that will not stop or severe swelling, contact our office. Otherwise, Dr. Kelley will evaluate your progress during your routine follow-up appointments. 

Most patients can return to normal activities like work the day after the procedure. During this time, you may experience some tenderness and swelling. These should fade over the next few days.

Maintaining the Results of Your Procedure 

With proper care, your gums should be fully healed and stabilized within about two weeks after surgery. Because gum recession can compromise your oral health, cause discomfort, and make you feel self-conscious, it is important to maintain healthy gum tissue. To protect your smile for years to come, we recommend that you:

  • Attend regular biannual exams and cleanings, during which we can evaluate your case and treat concerns early on. If you are prone to gum disease, you should visit our office more frequently.  
  • Practice good brushing and flossing techniques. This can reduce your risk of future gum disease. 
  • Remove any piercings that could be irritating your gum tissue. 
  • Quit smoking. Tobacco use has been linked to gum disease and other oral and overall health concerns. 

During your appointment, Dr. Kelley can provide a personalized treatment and at-home care plan that helps you enjoy the benefits of your gum graft for many years to come. 

Schedule an Appointment Today

If you have noticed that your teeth appear longer or your gums and teeth are more sensitive than usual, call us at (248) 828-3185 or contact us online. In addition to relieving discomfort and protecting your tooth roots, a gum graft can help your smile look better by restoring balance. Dr. Kelley and his team will design your procedure to be as comfortable as possible. 

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