How Painful is Gum Grafting?

Gum recession is a common issue that leads to sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. Gum recession can be a result of periodontal disease, overly aggressive brushing, medications, or genetics. If left untreated, it can cause the roots of your teeth to become exposed which in turn can lead to root decay, deterioration of jaw bone structure and eventually tooth loss. Since gum tissue cannot regenerate on its own, a gum graft is a great way to restore the health of your gum tissue and teeth.

A gum graft is certainly not painless but each patient’s specific experience is relative to the individual. The pain and expense of not having a needed gum surgery can be much more extensive than the pain you may experience while recovering from gum graft surgery.

There are a few different types of gum graft that your periodontist can perform. They include:

  • Connective tissue graft which uses a small piece of underlying connective tissue harvested from the roof of your mouth that is then sutured into place over the affected area.
  • Free gingival graft uses either donor tissue that has been previously harvested from a cadaver and frozen or tissue harvested from the roof of your mouth. The tissue is sutured over the affected area being treated.
  • Pedicle graft is only an option if the patient has thick and healthy gum tissue surrounding the affected area. A small section of the healthy tissue is cut and stitched into position over the exposed roots of the teeth next to it.

Before beginning your procedure, your doctor will use a topical numbing agent before administering a local anesthetic to make sure that you are comfortable and numb during the procedure. You are likely to experience some pain and discomfort once the anesthesia wears off.

Managing Your Pain With Post Operative Care

Your doctor will give you a detailed list of post-op instructions which if followed directly, will help keep you as comfortable as possible and speed your recovery time. Some notes you can expect to see on your post-op recovery list include but aged not limited to:

  • avoid brushing and flossing at your surgery site for a couple of weeks, up to a month
  • avoid hot foods and beverages, sticking to a soft food diet for at least a week
  • avoid exercise and physical activities for at least 24 hours
  • if you notice bleeding, place a moist gauze around the surgery site but not directly over it
  • rinse with warm salt water after eating to help clean the area of food particles

Who should seek gum graft treatment?

Gum tissue cannot grow back on its own so it needs a little help by way of a gum graft. Exposed root surfaces can cause unbearable pain and sensitivity and cause you to avoid foods and beverages that you previously enjoyed. Left untreated, tooth roots can develop decay and the bone structure that holds your teeth and can begin to deteriorate. Without supporting bone structure, your teeth can become loose and eventually fall out.

Enduring the pain from gum graft surgery could be significantly less than pain from other restorative surgeries such as bone grafts and dental implants. Aside from less pain, the cost of gum graft surgery will be much less than the cost of a bone graft and dental implants or dentures.

If you are experiencing significant temperature sensitivities, speak with your dentist to see if gum graft surgery may be the best treatment for you.

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