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Soft Tissue Graft: Purpose, Procedure, And Recovery

Soft tissue or gum tissue graft is a type of gum surgery. It is a periodontal surgical procedure in which a dentist or periodontist grafts the gum to protect the teeth. Here is everything you need to know about soft tissue graft, including why and how it’s done.

Why It Is Done?

Your dentist is likely to recommend a soft tissue graft if he or she sees that the conditions of your gums are bad or deteriorating. Gum recession is basically the gradual pulling away of tissue around the teeth, this exposes more of the roots of your teeth. 

Receding gums is a pretty common dental problem. Around 12 percent of adults are believed to be affected by gum recession. However, most people don’t pay any attention to it or are simply not aware of it until serious damage has been done. 

Gum recession makes the surface of teeth’s roots more likely to decay and it can result in tooth sensitivity and, eventually, tooth loss. The gradual process can lead to the destruction of the supporting bone of the tooth if left untreated. 

A soft tissue gum graft also referred to as a gingival graft, is often necessary to remedy the gum recession problem. The procedure is basically done to repair the damage that has already been done. Along with this many even decide to have smile correction surgery but that’s more of a personal preference than a necessity.

What to Expect During a Soft Tissue Graft

So this periodontal procedure comes in three forms. And which one you need to have will depend on what your dentist sees. The types are listed in the following:

Free Gingival Graft 

In this procedure, the periodontist removes a bit of tissue from the roof of your mouth and proceeds to attach or stitch it to the area of your gums where needed. 

A free gingival graft is most commonly used on people whose gums are thin and who require additional tissue to guard against recession.

Connective Tissue Graft

This process is similar to a free gingival graft. What’s different here is that it does not involve the use of tissue directly from the roof of the mouth and is mostly used to correct root exposure. 

Your dentist will cut a flap of skin from the palate (the roof of your mouth) to remove what is known as subepithelial connective tissue from underneath it. The flap is then stitched back and the tissue is sutured to the gum area around the exposed root.

Pedicle Graft

Periodontists usually take this approach with people who have a significant amount of gum tissue close to an affected tooth. Here a flap of tissue (known as a pedicle) is partially cut from an area near the receding gum. 

Then moved to cover the exposed root, and after that stitched back into place. In a pedicle graft, the flap is not detached, this ensures uninterrupted blood flow. This surgery does not take a lot of time to carry out and you can leave your dentist’s office as soon as it is completed. Anesthesia is usually administered before it begins to reduce discomfort.

Soft Tissue Graft Recovery

So since this is a surgery regardless of how minor it was, you may be required to spend up to a couple of hours at your dentist’s office. You need to do this so that the doctors can observe your condition for any possible issues. 

If you had a sedative pushed, you need someone to drive you home. Do not under any circumstances drive under the influence of anesthesia. Your dentist will most likely recommend the use of an antimicrobial mouthwash to prevent plaque build-up and prevent infections. 

Once you are done with the procedure you cannot brush, floss or anything until that area has healed. Soft or cool foods, such as cottage cheese, yogurt, ice cream, gelatin (Jell-O), and eggs, should be the diet you follow for the duration of the healing process. 

Your dentist will most probably provide you with a diet list for this as well so don’t worry. And if you experience pain, you can use over-the-counter painkillers, like NSAIDs, for relief. Immediately go to the doctor if you are experiencing greater discomfort than the usual pain threshold. Or if your bleeding doesn’t stop after you apply pressure for about 20 minutes.

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