If you have receding gums, your dentist might recommend a gum graft. This involves grafting tissue to your gums so they cover your teeth appropriately to prevent cavities and so your smile has an improved appearance. Here's a look at when a gum graft is needed and how the procedure is done.

When You May Need A Gum Graft

When you have receding gums, your gums pull away from your teeth. This can expose the roots and make your teeth sensitive. This can also lead to gum disease or make your gum disease worse by letting bacteria get around the roots of your teeth. Receding gums can affect the appearance of your smile by exposing too much of your teeth.

If your dentist wants to prevent these complications and help you avoid infections and sensitive tooth pain, they may recommend a gum graft. You can have a graft around a single tooth or several teeth depending on your condition.

A Gum Graft Can Be Done With Local Anesthesia

You usually don't need general anesthesia for gum graft surgery. Your dentist might give you a local anesthetic like you get for any other type of dental work. They might also give you sedation by IV or a pill to help you relax if you have anxiety about the procedure. Since you'll have an anesthetic, the graft surgery isn't painful.

The Donor Tissue Is Taken From Your Mouth

A gum graft can be done a few ways, but it's common for the dentist to get the graft tissue from the roof of your mouth. This is done by cutting a flap open on the roof of your mouth so the dentist can remove some tissue from under the flap. The flap is then sutured back in place with stitches.

The dentist opens another flap in the gum over the tooth being treated. The graft tissue is wrapped around the tooth and the flap is stitched over it. The stitches used in the grafting procedure may fall out by themselves or you may need to return to the dentist to have them removed.

Recovery Could Take Several Days

It takes several days for both of the surgical sites in your mouth to heal in order to return to a normal diet and brushing and flossing your teeth as usual. While you're recovering, you'll need to eat a soft diet of things like pudding, blended cold soup, and yogurt. Your dentist provides you with detailed instructions on what you can eat and what you need to avoid doing. For instance, you should avoid smoking.

You'll also need to avoid brushing the gum area or using floss on the tooth until your dentist says it's okay. You can gradually add more foods to your diet according to the schedule your dentist gives you, but it will probably be several days until you can eat a normal diet and be back to your normal routine.

For more information on gum grafting, contact a professional near you.