When you hear about orthodontics, you may think this is only a concept that teens have to worry about. However, this type of treatment can benefit adults of all ages as well as children as young as 7 years old. Undergoing various procedures such as wearing braces or a retainer can be daunting to some…
How Painful Is Gum Grafting?
Receding gums can happen for a variety of reasons, but the problem may be reversible with a process known as gum grafting. This is a surgery that can help prevent tooth loss in people of almost any age and repair a smile that is changing because of receding gums. Individuals who are considering this surgery may fear dealing with oral pain during and after the surgery, but knowing what to expect may reduce feelings of anxiety and allow them to move forward with confidence.
Understanding gum graft surgery
Receding gums usually occur with advancing age, but there are several other causes as well, including using a toothbrush with harsh bristles, not brushing often enough or poor flossing habits. Over time, the gums pull away from the teeth, which can cause a variety of problems:
- Consistent pain
- Sensitivity to hot/cold foods
- Loose teeth
If this problem is not treated properly, tooth loss may occur at the site where the gums are pulling away. Gum graft surgery, which involves replacing lost gum tissue with healthy tissue from the roof of the mouth, can reverse the damage, cover exposed roots and prevent future problems in the grafted area. While this procedure may sound painful, it is actually not complicated and the recovery time might be shorter than with other oral surgeries.
What to expect during surgery
There are several different methods dentists may use during a gum grafting surgery. One that is usually used is called a connective tissue graft, where flesh from the mouth’s palate is used to create new gum tissue around teeth with exposed roots. Patients typically require numbing anesthesia instead of sedation, as only a few stitches are required to graft new tissue to the affected area. The numbness will probably last for several hours, giving individuals added respite from any pain they might feel and provide an opportunity to take pain medication before the anesthesia wears off.
After the surgery
Patients who undergo this graft may want to ask someone to drive them to and from the dentist’s office, as some pain and discomfort could make operating a vehicle risky. Once the local anesthesia wears off, patients may experience some pain and swelling for up to 72 hours but will likely receive pain medication from the oral surgeon.
Overall, a gum graft typically takes less time to heal than a root canal and is usually much less painful. Most individuals can return to work within a day or so and while talking and eating may be a challenge for many over the first 24 hours, the grafts tend to heal well and do not interfere with these activities in the long term.
People who are sensitive to pain or have experienced severe discomfort after oral procedures in the past may want to discuss this with the dentist before having gum graft surgery. A short-term change in eating habits and other lifestyle choices can assist with pain management and reduce the risk of becoming addicted to prescription painkillers.
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