Gum grafting is the process of applying a new layer of gingiva over the area that has receded. Like a skin graft that would be used on burn victims, the new tissues are harvested and moved to the location where they are needed. This protects the area underneath and also affects the overall appearance of the teeth.
Have you ever looked into the mirror and noticed that certain teeth are starting to look “longer” than they used to be? Almost as if the tooth is protruding/erupting out of the gums more than it was a few years ago? It turns out that it’s not a problem with your tooth, but actually your gum tissue (gingiva) around it. We call this condition, “gum recession.”
As gums recede, they leave the root surfaces of teeth exposed ad it brings a number of concerns such as:
Although these concerns may not seem severe at first, untreated gum loss can ultimately result in a gradual deterioration of your overall oral health and potentially lead to loss of the affected teeth. Root surfaces are much weaker and susceptible to infection than the strong enamel that makes up the portion of the tooth that extends above the gum line (the crowns).
A gum graft procedure usually starts around $600 and up, depending on your gum's health and many other factors. We highly recommend scheduling an appointment to get a full examination by the dentist to get an exact amount.
Some insurance plans will cover gum graft procedures and we can help you find out.
If you do not have dental insurance and cost is a problem we do offer very flexible payment plans, just ask us for more information.
A receding gum line is not always noticeable at first. Dental habits such as grinding your teeth, aggressive brushing, or excessive use of alcohol-based mouthwashes can gradually chip away at your gums over time. A receding gum line can be the result of several different factors. Some of the most common include.
Aggressive Toothbrushing: A medium to a stiff-bristled toothbrush (or even a heavy hand with a soft one) can be traumatic to delicate gum tissues. Over time, the gingiva gradually creeps away from the harsh scrubbing back and forth.
Periodontal Disease: Gum disease is an infection that destroys the ligaments that connect your teeth to the gums and bone around them. When untreated, the gums slowly shrink away due to bacterial colonies underneath.
Tooth Misalignment: A tooth that is out of alignment with its partners may result in stretching or pulling of the gingiva, causing it to creep further down the root. “Lip ties” (tension in the labial frenulum that connects the anterior portion of the tongue to the floor of the mouth) are known to cause the same problem.
Teeth Grinding: If stress seems to get to you, grinding your teeth can be a common side effect. As teeth microscopically flex in the mouth, enamel chips away along the gum line, contributing to recession.
Bad Habits: Do you tend to bite your nails or use your teeth as tools? Everyday habits can lead to a cumulative effect on both your gums and teeth.
Tobacco Use: Delicate oral tissues are drastically affected by-products such as cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. Snuff, in particular, can cause severe gum recession in areas where users hold it throughout the day, even if you make a habit to rotate them.
Do I Need a Gum Graft?
After your full dental examination, Dr. Nourian will discuss what factors may be contributing to your gum recession and/or causing the problems you’re experiencing.
Before getting a gum graft, it’s important to understand why the gum recession is occurring and take steps to address that issue before scheduling the surgery. For instance, if active periodontal disease is a concern, we will need to complete soft tissue therapy and cleanings before it’s safe to move forward with a graft. Or if aggressive tooth brushing is to blame, we will talk about ways to use lighter pressure and a soft or extra-soft bristle brush.
Once we’ve halted the cause of the gum recession, we can move forward with the graft. After all, gum tissues won’t grow back on their own!
What happens after your Gum Graft Procedure?
Caring for your surgical site after a gum graft is an important part of how successful it will be. We will provide you with a list of written instructions to follow so that you don’t have to worry about missing something important.
A soft diet is best for the first several days. Avoid anything too hot or hard, as it may injure the surgical site. It’s normal to experience some mild irritation or possible bruising after any surgery. Wait at least two weeks before eating anything with small grains or seeds. We recommend avoiding all tobacco products for as long as possible, as they can delay healing or success of the graft altogether.
Dr. Somayeh Nourian is the principal dentist at Kiwi Dental focusing on restorative, cosmetic and dental surgeries. With over 14 years of experience as a family dentist, she has earned the trust of many families to take care of their oral health.
She graduated from the University of Ottawa with a bachelor of Biochemistry and earned her dental degree from the University of Toronto in 2006. She has a passion for dental surgeries including dental implants and gum grafts and is currently part of the Ontario Dental Implant Network.