Steps taken to prepare for a gum graft include having good oral hygiene, stopping smoking and, in some cases, stopping blood-thinning agents for a brief period. This, however, depends on the reason for the blood-thinning agent and the specific surgery being performed, and should be discussed with both the doctor performing the surgery and the prescribing doctor well in advance of the procedure. Gum graft surgery is done on people with receding gums to replace the gum.
Receding gums may occur due to a number of factors, including genetics and aging. Aggressive brushing may also be a cause, and poor oral hygiene may allow enzymes to eat away the gums. Chewing tobacco and eating disorders such as bulimia may also cause receding gums. Regardless of the cause, gum graft surgery may be an option, as it allows for a reduced risk of further dental caries and bone loss, stops sensitivity and is cosmetically pleasing.
Gum graft surgery is performed by either a periodontist or general dentist who has been trained. It is usually performed in the dentist's room under local anesthetic. A mild sedative may be given to minimize anxiety and discomfort during the procedure. Someone should be available to drive the patient home after the procedure, as he may be drowsy.
Before a gum graft is performed, the different options for the procedure should be discussed with the dentist. There are two ways in which it may be performed. The patient's own tissue may be cut from the palate and stitched, or grafted, to the gum, or donor tissue may be used. The advantages and disadvantages of each type should be discussed. Any current medication and allergies should also be mentioned.
After a gum graft, it is recommended that the patient rest for at least 24 hours, with the head slightly raised. During this period, hard foods should be avoided. A stent or guard may be given to those who have used tissue from their palate for the graft. This will protect the palate while it is healing.
Mild analgesic drugs may be given after the procedure, as the patient may experience some pain. Antibacterial mouthwash may also be given. The dentist who performed the surgery will advise the patient as to when normal flossing and brushing of the teeth may be resumed. Only the mouthwash or rinse may be used until the graft has healed to prevent bleeding or damage to the healing graft.