Gum Grafts: Types, Benefits & Aftercare Tips

NewMouth is reader supported. We may earn a commission if you purchase something using one of our links.
CAN MOUTHWASH KILL COVID-19? FIND OUT WHAT THE RESEARCH SAYS

Jump to topic

What Are Gum Grafts?

A gum graft, also called a gingival graft, is a periodontal surgery that corrects receding gums. Gum recession is when your gums pull away from your teeth, exposing your tooth roots.

The first sign of root exposure is typically sensitivity to hot and cold substances. This is because root surfaces do not have hard enamel, which makes them more sensitive.

BOOK A TOP DENTIST NEAR YOU ON ZOCDOC

1. Find nearby in-network dentists

2. Browse reviews by real patients

3. Book your dentist appointment online

FIND A DENTIST

Depending on the severity of the condition, your gums may recede on one tooth, a few teeth, or all of your teeth.

The primary causes of gum recession include:

  • Periodontal disease (advanced gum disease)
  • Long-term use of tobacco and nicotine products
  • Improper brushing habits
  • Soft-tissue trauma or dental trauma
  • Poorly fitting partial dentures
  • Genetics (some people are born with thin gums)
  • Eating disorders, such as bulimia (self-induced vomiting)
  • Bruxism, which is the habit of grinding the teeth

Types of Gum Graft Procedures

There are three types of gum graft surgery, including connective tissue grafts, pedicle grafts, and free gum grafts. Depending on your needs, your dentist will determine the best treatment possible to ensure long-term success.

Connective Tissue Grafts

Connective tissue grafts are the most common treatment for gum recession.

During the procedure, a periodontist removes soft-tissue from the second layer under the roof of your mouth (palate). Then they stitch the tissue onto the gums of the exposed root. Lastly, they stitch up the flap on the palate from where the gum tissue was taken.

advantages
  • High success rate
  • Good blood supply to the graft
  • Treats a single tooth or multiple teeth
  • The palate heals quickly
  • Minor scarring
  • After healing, the gums look natural
disadvantages
  • Difficult to perform
  • Time-consuming procedure
  • Longer healing time

Pedicle Grafts

During a pedicle graft, healthy gum tissue is taken from the tooth next to the recessed tooth.

During the procedure, a periodontist cuts a flap of tissue from the gum of the adjacent tooth. Then the exposed root surface of the recessed tooth is covered with the new soft-tissue and stitched into place. The goal of a pedicle graft is to keep the blood vessels in place.

Advantages
  • Relatively easy and quick procedure
  • Restores healthy gum tissue
  • Improves your smile
  • Results look natural
Disadvantages
  • Only treats one tooth with an exposed root
  • Higher chance of developing gum recession after the procedure

Free Gum Grafts

During a free gum graft procedure, also called a free gingival graft, a periodontist removes soft-tissue directly from the roof of the mouth. Then they stitch the tissue on top of the gum above the exposed root.

Periodontists typically only recommend free gum grafting to patients with thin gums.

Advantages
  • Relatively easy and fast procedure
  • Treats a single tooth or multiple teeth
  • The teeth receiving treatment do not need to be next to each other
Disadvantages
  • The palate is prone to bleeding
  • May cause more pain
  • Gums and palate heal slowly
  • Looks less natural (palate tissue is whiter than the gums)

Rejuvagum Lift™- Alternative Gum Recession Treatment (No Surgery)

Rejuvagum lift is a newer treatment for gum recession. The procedure eliminates the need for gum graft surgery by using advanced platelet-rich fibrin to regrow receding gums.

During the procedure, a small amount of your blood is used to create the “platelet-rich fibrin,” which is a collection of white cells. Then, your periodontist injects the fibrin into your receding gum(s). This helps regenerate new gum tissue in just a few days. Stitches are also used to hold the fibrin in place for about two weeks.

Advantages
  • Less painful and invasive than traditional gum grafting
  • Low chance of infection or rejection
  • Quick recovery process
  • More affordable
  • Takes about an hour to complete
  • You’ll see results in about a week
Disadvantages
  • Requires a blood draw
  • Not enough scientific research that proves long-term effectiveness

Benefits of Gum Graft Surgery

There are many benefits of gum graft surgery. The primary advantages include:

  • Reduces further recession and possible bone loss
  • Covers exposed tooth roots, which prevents root decay
  • Reduces sensitive teeth
  • Improves your smile and appearance
  • Improves your oral health

After Care & Recovery Tips

The healing process post-op should not take longer than two weeks. To help speed up recovery, you should:

  • Not brush or floss the area for at least a week
  • Rinse your mouth with a special mouthwash
  • Take antibiotics and ibuprofen to reduce pain
  • Avoid eating hard foods, such as hard candy and uncooked vegetables
  • Only eat soft foods, such as yogurt and eggs
  • Do not drink hot liquids
  • Do not smoke tobacco
  • Avoid vigorous exercise

Possible Complications After Gum Graft Surgery

The success rate of gum graft surgery is high. In rare cases, dental complications can occur. This may include:

  • Swollen and/or bleeding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Soft-tissue infections
  • Small gaps between teeth

If you experience bleeding that lasts longer than 20 minutes, notice unexpected swelling, or develop a fever, contact your dentist immediately. These symptoms may indicate an infection.

Treatment Costs & Insurance Coverage

The cost of treatment depends on how many grafts are needed, the extent of gum recession, and whether the tissue was taken from the patient’s mouth or a tissue bank. If the tissue is taken from a cadaver (tissue bank), the procedure usually costs more.

On average, gum grafts can cost anywhere between $600 and $3,000 per tooth. Depending on your insurance plan, the procedure may be partially or fully covered.

FIND AND COMPARE TOP LOCAL DENTISTS

Choose your insurance to find nearby in-network doctors who accept your plan. Read verified reviews & book appointments online.

Resources

Goldstein, M., et al. “A Critical Evaluation of Methods for Root Coverage.” Critical Reviews in Oral Biology & Medicine, vol. 7, no. 1, 1996, pp. 87–98., doi:10.1177/10454411960070010601.

Johnson, Jordan D. American Dental Association (ADA) Patient Education Center. http://www.ada.org/en/~/media/ADA/Publications/Files/ADA_PatientSmart_Gum_Recession

“RejuvaGum Lift Treatment For Gum Recession Featured On ABC News Los An.” PRWeb, 14 May 2015, https://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/05/prweb12723206.htm.

calendar icon
Updated on: October 20, 2020
Author
Alyssa Hill
About
calendar icon
Medically Reviewed
Photo of Lara Coseo
Lara Coseo
About
menu