Receding gums are not just unattractive. They can cause tooth sensitivity and, if left unaddressed, may lead to the deterioration of the underlying bone and subsequent loosening of the teeth. Luckily, there's a common procedure for addressing receding gums: gum grafts. This procedure is typically performed by an oral surgeon.
Preparing For the Procedure
Gum grafts are typically performed under local anesthetic. (In other words, you'll be given a shot of Lidocaine or a similar substance that will numb your mouth but leave you conscious.) This means you won't typically need to avoid eating or drinking prior to the procedure as you would if you were undergoing general anesthesia.
Your dentist may, however, prescribe an oral sedative like Valium for you to take before your gum grafts. If this is the case, you'll need to take the drug an hour or two before leaving for your appointment (your surgeon will tell you exactly when to take it) and have someone drive you to the surgeon's office.
Undergoing the Procedure
When you arrive at the office, your dentist will use a needle to inject an anesthetic into your gums near the area to be treated. The roof of your mouth will also be numbed. Then, your dentist will use a metal scaling tool and perhaps a water pick to clean your teeth and gums.
Once you're numb (which will take a few minutes) your dentist will remove a small amount of tissue from the roof of your mouth. You won't feel a thing. The tissue will then be stitched onto the gums that need to be extended. Once your dentist is finished stitching, some gauze will be applied to the surgical sites to absorb the blood. You'll keep this gauze in your mouth for a few hours after treatment, changing it as needed.
Recovering From the Procedure
If you took an oral sedative, you will need to have someone else drive you home from your surgeon's office. The anesthetic will slowly wear off, and your mouth will feel a bit sore as it does. In most cases, taking an over-the-counter NSAID like ibuprofen will alleviate most of the discomfort.
Your surgeon will likely tell you to avoid crunchy foods for a few days to allow your gums to heal. Soft foods like ice cream, yogurt, and pasta should be fine to eat after the procedure. But, you'll need to rinse your mouth with salt water or an antiseptic wash several times per day to clean out any food particles and bacteria. Within a week or two, your gums will be healed, and you'll have a great new smile!
For more information, contact a local clinic like Altoona Center For Oral Surgery & Maxillofacial Surgery.