Gum Grafting / Recession

GumGraftingRecessionAggressive tooth brushing, periodontal disease, and genetically thin tissue can lead to gum recession, which ultimately results in exposed tooth roots. When tooth roots are exposed, teeth appear too long and can become sensitive to hot and cold liquids and foods. Also, the exposed roots are in danger of decay.

Soft tissue grafts are available to repair this problem by increasing the amount of gum around your tooth as well as preventing further recession, bone loss or decay. The procedure covers the roots as well as increases the amount of gum tissue where excessive gum recession is present. Gum tissue is taken from your palate or from another donor source to cover the exposed root, thus, evening your gum line and reducing sensitivity levels.

Before the procedure, a local anesthetic is used to numb the surgical areas. Typically, little to no discomfort is felt as your periodontist takes gum from your palate and places it over the exposed roots. Following the surgery, both surgical areas may be a little tender, sore, or swollen and both areas will most likely have a bandage protecting the treated areas. A pain killer and antibiotic will be prescribed to help relieve discomfort and prevent infection from occurring.

In most cases, recovery time after gum surgery is minimal, and patients can resume their normal routines the day after the procedure.

To view a before and after photo of a Connective Tissue Graft, click here.

Post-Op Instructions for Gum Grafting/Recession Procedure


Rest with your head elevated when you arrive at home after the procedure. We ask that you please limit your physical activity and keep moving to a minimum for the first 24-hours.

Ice Application

For the first 4-5 hours after the surgery, we recommend placing an ice bag to your face in 20-minute intervals. This will help reduce facial swelling. If needed, you can use an ice bag for 24-hours.

Medication Instructions

Please take anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) to prevent inflammation, swelling, and pain. For the next 4-5 days, we suggest taking 400mg-800mg of Ibuprofen every six hours to reduce swelling and pain and quicken healing. DO NOT take more than 2400mg in a 24-hour period. If you experience excessive pain or discomfort, take the narcotic that has been prescribed to you. If you do not have one, please call our office and the doctor will call in a prescription to your pharmacy. Please take as directed along with the NSAID. If you’ve been prescribed an antibiotic, please take as directed. We ask that you finish the entire dosage. If any of the medications are causing you extreme nausea, itching, or a rash; discontinue its use and call our office immediately.

If You Experience Bleeding

If your donor site has some minor bleeding, this is no cause for alarm. You can either gently rinse your mouth out with iced water or iced tea or apply gentle pressure to the donor site with a moistened piece of gauze or a tea bag for 20 minutes. (Tea contains tannic acid which can help stop the bleeding.)

To prevent irritation of the donor site and grafted site, we will place a bandage over each area. Please DO NOT brush the bandaged areas. If the bandage should become loose or fall out and you feel comfortable, then continue to avoid brushing the surgical areas. If the donor site and/or grafted site is uncomfortable without the bandage, then we can attempt to place another bandage or you can apply “Orabase” on the donor site only.

By the second or third day, you graft will look white in color, and it will stay that way for several days. Do not worry; this is normal. We do ask that you refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol as these activities will interfere with blood clotting and healing of the grafted site.

Eating Guidelines

When you arrive home after surgery, you may have something very soft to eat or cold to drink. In the evening on the day of your surgery, we recommend eating a soft, bland meal as this is usually the best way to help you feel better. For the first week, please do not eat anything hard or crunchy.

Caring for Your Mouth

We ask that you PLEASE DO NOT PULL DOWN YOUR LIP TO LOOK AT THE GRAFT SITE. By doing so, you can dislodge the healing tissue. We also strongly request that you DO NOT brush the area in which you had surgery as this will hinder the healing process. Please continue your regular oral hygiene habits on all other areas in your mouth. Please use an antiseptic mouthwash at least once in the morning and once at night before bed until your next appointment with our office.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call our office.

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