Is a Gum Graft Painful?

Reviewed on 11/10/2021
grafting gums
Gum graft surgery for receding gums or gum disease is typically performed under local anesthesia, which makes the procedure less painful than others.

Like any other procedure that involves incisions, it is normal to experience pain or discomfort with a gum graft surgery. However, in most cases, local anesthesia numbs the area where the procedure is performed. This makes the procedure less painful. Pain may be felt after the anesthesia wears off, but your dentist will prescribe you painkillers for the same.

A gum tissue graft is relatively quick, and you can leave within a few minutes after it is done.

The intensity of pain post-surgery depends on the type of gum graft procedure performed. Removal of the graft tissue from the palate is a bit more painful, but it tends to heal faster.

In addition to pain relievers, some changes in diet and lifestyle can alleviate pain more safely than resorting to frequent doses of painkillers for pain relief.

If you are extremely sensitive to pain or have minimal tolerance for the discomfort experienced in oral procedures in the past, you should let your doctor know about your threshold for pain. Your doctor may give you a sedative to help you feel relaxed during the procedure.

What happens during a gum graft?

Your surgeon can perform a gum tissue graft in any of the three following ways depending on your needs.

  1. Connective tissue grafts: This is the most common method used to treat gum recession with root surface exposure. The procedure involves cutting a flap of skin from the roof of your palate (mouth) and connective tissue from under the flap. These are then stitched together to the gum tissue surrounding the exposed root.
  2. Free gingival grafts: Free gingival grafts involve the removal of tissue from the roof of the mouth for grafting. A small amount of skin tissue, without the connective tissue, is removed directly from the roof of the mouth and then attached to the affected gum area. This method is used most often for people with thin or receding gums.
  3. Pedicle grafts: Unlike the other two types of gum grafts that use tissue from the roof of the palate, the pedicle graft involves using the flap (known as pedicle) of gum tissue from around the affected gum recession area.

How long does it take to recover from gum graft?

Complete healing of the operated gum area generally takes two weeks. However, you should be able to return to work the day after surgery. Healing may be affected by factors such as your age, the extent of the area operated, and conditions including diabetes mellitus and hypertension.

You will be able to go home within a few minutes of the procedure. However, if your doctor has administered you a sedative, you may have to wait for several hours till the effect of the sedative wears off.

After you are home, you will have to follow all relevant instructions related to the diet, physical activity, and medications, including:

  • Not flossing or brushing the operated gum area until it has healed
  • Rinsing your mouth with special mouthwash to prevent plaque formation
  • Taking a short course of antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection
  • For one to two weeks, eating soft, cool foods such as:
    • Well-cooked vegetables
    • Eggs
    • Pasta
    • Jell-O
    • Yogurt
    • Ice cream

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References
Image Source: iStock Images

Soft tissue graft. https://www.njperio.org/periodontal-disease/soft-tissue-graft/

Gum grafting. https://www.uthscsa.edu/patient-care/dental/services/gum-grafting

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