Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

The gums are meant to cover up the roots of the teeth. In some cases, though, the gums may recede or pull away from the teeth, exposing the roots. Although receding gums are often associated with oral problems like gum disease, it’s possible to have gum recession even if you’re otherwise healthy. Depending on the severity of the recession, your dentist might recommend surgery to correct it. Here’s what you should know about gum grafts and gum graft recovery.

What Happens During Gum Graft Surgery

During a gum graft procedure, a periodontist will harvest soft tissue from one area of your mouth, such as the soft palate. The tissue can also come from a different donor or source. The periodontist will then attach the tissue to the gums, covering the exposed root. To make sure you’re comfortable during surgery, the periodontist will most likely use a local anesthetic to numb the area of exposed gum recession. After the surgery, you will return home and rest so the area heals.

Gum Graft Recovery and Healing

Recovery after a gum graft usually doesn’t take very long, as the American Dental Association points out. It’s common to have some soreness in the surgical area for a day or so afterward. But you’ll most likely feel well enough to return to your usual activity the day after surgery. Still, you’ll need to pay close attention to what you eat. Chewing can be tricky for about a week or two. The periodontist might give you a list of foods to avoid or foods to eat as you recuperate. Soft foods, such as mashed vegetables and pudding, are usually the way to go.

One way to help the recovery process along is to pay close attention to the quality of foods you eat. A paper published in the Open Dentistry Journal found that eating enough of certain nutrients after periodontal procedures helped improve wound healing. For example, the researchers found that boosting vitamin D intake during recovery may reduce inflammation. A multivitamin can be helpful, as well.

You want to keep your teeth and gums clean during recovery, but your dentist will likely recommend that you avoid brushing in the surgical area. You don’t want to irritate or inflame the healing graft. To help keep your mouth clean without irritation, your dentist or periodontisst might prescribe a special mouthrinse.

Why Would You Need a Gum Graft?

If your dentist recommends a gum graft to you, it’s important to understand that it might not be due to a problem with your oral care or health. Although many people who have receding gums develop them as a result of periodontal disease, gingival recession can also occur because of your family history or genes. For example, some people naturally have weaker gum tissue than others. Receding gums can develop when the teeth are awkwardly positioned in your mouth. Brushing your teeth with a lot of force may also cause your gums to pull away from your teeth.

A study published in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology found that nearly 41 percent of a group of 710 participants had gingival recession. Older participants were more likely to have receding gums than younger participants, and men were more likely than women to have recession. The two main causes of gum recession in the study were dental plaque buildup and “faulty teeth brushing.” To keep your gums healthy, make sure to adopt good oral hygiene habits. Consider adding a mouthwash to your oral health routine, such as Colgate Total Mouthwash for Gum Health, which provides advanced gum protection for 45 percent stronger, healthier gums.

Whatever the cause of the gingival recession, a gum graft, which transplants tissue from one area of the mouth to another, is a common way to treat it. As you recuperate after a gum graft, remember that your dentist is a helpful resource. They can address any questions and concerns you have about the recovery process.