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Gum Conditions

Free Gingival Graft

The free gingival graft is used when more attached gingiva (thick, fibrous gum tissue) must be added around the neck of a tooth. If there is inadequate attached gingiva, spontaneous recession of the gum and bone will occur over time. Typically the normal attached gingiva has been worn away by improper brushing, although some people are born with very little attached gingiva. When a new band of attached gingiva is created with a free gingival graft, the site becomes stable, and with proper brushing techniques, the results can be expected to last. It should be remembered that free gingival grafting is normally not performed to cover an exposed root.

What to expect after a free gingival graft

Have you ever burned your mouth by drinking hot coffee or eating hot pizza? If so, you have experienced what it feels like after a free gingival graft is taken from the roof of your mouth to be used for grafting. You should expect to use a medicated rinse to “numb” the palate or a clear stent to protect the palate after this type of graft. This procedure can Gum recession and an inadequate be performed under local anesthesia, local anesthesia amount of attached gingiva with sedation, or general anesthesia. After the rectangular-shaped graft is taken from your palate, the graft is secured with sutures that usually dissolve within a week or two.

Usually two follow-up visits are needed to assure that the graft forms a blood supply and survives the initial phase of placement. After two months, you should expect to be released back to your family dentist for regular care.

Questions to ask if you are considering a free gingival graft:

  • How painful will the roof of my mouth be after surgery?
  • Will the exposed roots be covered?
  • When can I resume a normal diet?
  • What happens if the graft does not “take”?
  • I normally perform daily exercise. When can I resume this activity?

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