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Gum Grafting and the Recovery Process
For those set to have gum grafting surgery, there may be some confusion about the procedure itself and worry about the recovery process. Fortunately, these are fairly common surgeries and the recovery process is not nearly as intensive as people may assume.
The basics of gum grafting
When the gums recede away from the teeth, it leads to the roots being exposed. This can cause sensitivity and rapid tooth decay. It may even result in teeth falling out. Therefore, a periodontist usually performs gum surgery to lengthen and patch up the areas of the gums where this recession has occurred.
The recovery process
As the gum grafting surgery itself sounds complex, many people assume the recovery process to be long and difficult. However, it is actually fairly simple as long as the care instructions are followed.
1. Choose foods wisely
The first thing patients need to be aware of is food. Typical care instructions should recommend starting out with soft foods. This includes yogurt, cottage cheese, Jell-O, soft boiled or scrambled eggs, soft or steamed vegetables and mashed potatoes. Some periodontists may even suggest a liquid diet to begin with in the first couple of days if a patient is especially sensitive or in pain.
Other foods and drinks should be avoided. This includes tobacco use in any form and drinking alcohol.
2. Practice good oral hygiene
The second step in gum grafting recovery is to use gentle yet effective oral hygiene techniques and to avoid others. For example, brushing and flossing should usually be avoided until the dentist approves it. This is usually decided at the checkup after the procedure. Both of those can hinder the healing process, irritate the incision sites and even cause an infection, so patients should be cautious.
However, cleaning is still necessary to prevent bacteria from building up in the mouth. The dentist will likely instruct patients to use a particular mouthwash with antimicrobial properties to assist with healing the grafting site, prevent infections and keep the bacteria to a minimum.
3. Give it plenty of time
Lastly, the healing process should not be rushed. According to the American Dental Association, it can take anywhere from one to two weeks for the mouth to fully heal from gum grafting surgery. Of course, this depends on the patient and the quality of care after surgery. Many periodontists recommend keeping exercise to a minimum or taking a break from it entirely to prevent complications. Patients may be able to return to work or other activities the day after the surgery, but this is on a person-by-person basis.
It is possible that a patient may experience some pain or discomfort, especially in the beginning. If this happens, over-the-counter painkillers can be used or the periodontist may prescribe medication if necessary.
If you have had or need to have gum grafting surgery, there are simple care instructions that can help the incision site to heal without complications. A periodontist can explain more about the surgery and also answer questions to help ensure the recovery process goes without a hitch.
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