If you find that some of your teeth look longer than they used to, or you have a high sensitivity to hot and cold food or beverages, then you may be experiencing gum recession, exposing some of the roots of your teeth. Gum recession often sneaks up on you because it occurs so gradually. We see patients from Plano, Texas and the surrounding area for gum recession treatment at our dental surgery center.
Gum recession causes
A common cause for gum recession is gum disease. Some factors that can increase your chances of initial infection include bad oral hygiene, hormone changes, diabetes, and genetic makeup. Another thing to keep in mind is that the CDC has reported that smokers are four times more likely to experience gum disease. In fact, almost every type of tobacco increases your chances of getting gum disease.
Other causes for gum recession include rough brushing, clenching or grinding your teeth, and forces caused by misaligned teeth. Also, note that having a lip or tongue piercing can irritate and degrade the gums over time.
Because gum disease is so common in the modern day, it is safer than not to assume that you already have a gum infection unless you are very, very certain otherwise. A recent study showed that almost half of 30-year-olds and about 70% of 65-year-olds have gum disease.
When gum disease is present, the infection not only destroys the bone tissue, but it also puts the immune system on full alert. The immune system reacts by inflaming the infected area. The problem is that when the area is inflamed, it is very damaging on the jaw bone and can make matters worse.
One way to keep your mouth clean and safe is by using a high-quality antibacterial mouthwash. We reiterate this because antibacterial mouthwash does an excellent job at killing off harmful bacteria and infection with minimal effort. It is also effective at treating the bad breath common with gum disease patients, making it a little more bearable to deal with.
Treating receding gums
If your receding gums are caused by gum disease and excessive tartar buildup, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you get a scaling and root planing (SNR) as an initial step. This deep cleaning removes bacteria and plaque that has built up, along with any tartar buildup on your roots or teeth. This will help heal the gums and prevent further recession.
If you have some more serious gum recession, you can also consider getting gum graft surgery. This surgery not only heals the recession already present but also prevents more from happening in the future.
Types of gum grafts
There are three types of gum grafts that are typically found in practice by periodontists.
Connective Tissue Grafts. Connective tissue grafts are the most common procedure which can be used to treat one or more areas of recession. This method takes tissue from the roof of your mouth and uses it to cover up exposed root area in the gums.
Free Gingival Grafts. Free gingival grafts are very similar, but the tissue used here is directly taken from the palate.
Pedicle Grafts. Pedicle grafts borrow the tissue of the adjacent tooth gum for the repair.
Donated human tissue is another option for use in a grafting procedure, but in general, it is best to use tissue from the same body.
Benefits of getting a gum graft
A gum graft doesn’t only stop gum recession from occurring. It is also great for reducing tooth sensitivity to hot and cold food or drink, protecting the roots of your teeth, and they can help create an even gum line. This lets you smile with a high-level of self-confidence.
Prevent gum recession with great oral care
To prevent gum recession, you need to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy. To do this, brush your teeth thoroughly, but not too harshly, twice a day with a soft toothbrush. Be sure to use the proper technique. Also, be sure to floss every day, as this is essential for preventing plaque and bacteria build up along the gumline. For an extra layer of protection, use an antiseptic mouthwash.
Your dentist is likely to be the first to notice your gum recession during a regular checkup. In this case, your dentist can give you a quick deep cleaning that removes tartar and bacteria that your toothbrush isn’t able to remove. Be sure that you always are consistent with your 6-month check-ups so that you can be one-step ahead of gum recession.
If you are someone who grinds their teeth at night, it is important that you ask your dentist about getting a mouthguard. Just to be safe, you should always be watching for early signs of gum disease and gum recession. These can include swollen or red gums and persistent bad breath. This way, you can catch the disease early before it gets too bad and requires extensive care.
The prevention of gum disease and recession is much more logical and much cheaper than getting professional treatment after problems arise, so be sure to keep up with your oral care routine and your check-ups at the dental office.
What if it’s too late?
If your dentist recently told you that you may need a gum graft, try not to freak out. It sounds much worse than it actually is. A gum graft may be the best option to keep your teeth healthy and safe from the effects of gum recession. Additionally, a gum graft may be a great way to improve the appearance of your smile.
When you have gum recession, the tissue around a tooth pulls away, exposing more of it and eventually exposing the root. This can be damaging to the supporting bone. You don’t need to feel like you are alone in experiencing gum recession, as it affects up to 12% of adults.
Often times, people don’t even notice gum recession, as it happens so gradually. However, as it becomes more severe, the exposed tooth root can have an unappealing look and cause severe tooth sensitivity. If not treated in a timely manner, gum recession can cause tooth loss in severe cases. To ensure the recession is repaired and that further damage is prevented, having gum grafting done at our dental clinic near Plano, TX may be a good option for you.
How to recover from a gum graft
Your dentist can give you further instructions on how to care for your gums after the surgery including diet, exercise, and medication information. It is important that you don’t floss or brush the area where the gum grafting took place until it has healed. To help control the cleanliness of the mouth and to reduce chances of getting an infection, you will be given instructions on how to use a special mouthwash. You may be put on an antibiotic to further prevent infections.
For the few weeks after the gum grafting surgery, you need to eat soft, cool foods. Some good examples include pasta, eggs, Jell-O, steamed vegetables, yogurt, and ice cream.
The level of pain you experience after the surgery will depend greatly on what type of gum grafting was done. If the tissue used was taken directly from the palette, you can expect to feel a higher amount of pain and discomfort. The pain felt by patients is often described to us in our gum grafting clinic near Plano, TX, as a burn on the roof of the mouth. Luckily, this heals pretty quickly. Prescription pain medication or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can be used to provide extra comfort and pain relief following the surgery.
It can take a few weeks for your mouth to make a full recovery, but you will be up and back to your normal routine in no time!
Gum grafting problems after surgery and when to call your dentist
If you find yourself experiencing unusual symptoms, be sure to contact your doctor right away. Here are some things to look out for:
- Bleeding that doesn’t stop after 20 minutes, even with applied pressure
- More bruising, pain, or swelling than you were originally told to expect
How much does gum grafting cost?
Please check with your insurance provider to see what your plan covers regarding gum grafting. For those without insurance, the cost will be dependent on the amount of work being done. You can contact our gum grafting center near Plano, TX to learn more about pricing.
Will I need to get another gum graft?
Gum grafts, when done correctly are efficient at repairing damage caused by gum recession and preventing further recession, but there is no guarantee that similar problems won’t reappear in the future. Luckily, if you are persistent with your dental check-ups and oral hygiene at home, you can detect problems before they get serious. Here are some other ways to prevent gum recession:
- Use a fluoride toothpaste to brush twice daily.
- Floss every day.
- Use an antiseptic mouthwash once a day.
- Be persistent with dental checkups and routine cleanings.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Avoid smoking.
Common gum graft questions:
What exactly is a gum graft?
Gum grafting is when small amounts of gum tissue are used in a surgical procedure to augment gums that have receded. This recession is usually caused by gum disease, but can also be caused by other issues. Sometimes, gum grafts are just used to improve the appearance of patients smiles.
How do gum grafts help treat gum disease?
Gum disease is the result of toxin-releasing bacteria which causes the tissue around the gums to recede down the surface of the tooth. As the gums recede further and further, it is easier for bacteria to reach the roots of the teeth which can eventually cause teeth to become weak or fall out. Gum grafts are a great solution for replacing some of the gum tissue that has receded. This helps protect the root of the tooth from bacteria and disease to keep your smile healthy and happy.
Where is gum graft tissue obtained?
Grafts can be obtained from the roof of the patient’s mouth for an autologous solution, but medically processed tissue from a tissue bank is also an option. Another option is to take some tissue from the gums adjacent to the tooth that needs the gum graft surgery. This type of gum graft is called a pedicle graft and is only possible when there is enough tissue for both teeth to remain healthy and support nearby teeth.
How will I feel after the procedure?
It is possible to use sedation with your gum graft procedure to reduce the pain and discomfort. After the procedure (if sedation is used), patients aren’t allowed to drive themselves home, as the sedation can make them feel too drowsy to drive safely.
During the initial healing phases of the gum grafting, it is important to avoid certain foods in order to protect the graft. Your dentist should give you in-depth instructions on how to properly care for the graft without disrupting it. To deal with the pain and discomfort, over-the-counter pain medication or prescription painkillers can be used. Thankfully, the healing process only takes a few weeks.