Not often considered as a strong and critical component of our bodies, our gums are nevertheless very tough stuff and the key ingredient of course for holding our teeth in place. Unfortunately, without proper oral care or bad habits such as smoking, high alcohol volume, or even bad genetic luck; periodontal disease (gum recession) can take hold.
Gum disease is a bad thing. Simply stated, it is an infection in the tissue which holds your teeth in their designated locations. Once infection gets started, it wears away the gums and exposes more of the tooth’s root, which brings with it high sensitivity and increases the chance for bacteria to settle in and cause further issues.
Gum disease happens very gradually and it’s difficult to notice until you have bleeding or sore gums, or even begin losing teeth. At this stage, gum graft surgery is recommended to repair the immediate problem and prevent further, more damaging, issues.
But wait, surgery of any kind is typically not something to look forward to and most people cringe even more when discussing surgery inside the mouth. However, the good news is gum graft surgery is a relatively simple procedure and following a few tips during the recovery phase will help return you to 100 percent in no time. First, let’s look briefly at what gum surgery entails.
Gum grafting surgery 101
It sounds intimidating but gum surgery (also known as gingival graft surgery) isn’t that bad. It is actually a straightforward outpatient procedure involving the removal of a small portion of tissue from the roof of the mouth and stitching it to areas where the gum has receded.
After surgery, you will feel some effects of the medication as well as localized pain to a mild degree. After about a week things will start returning to normal but in the meantime there are six handy tips to follow to make your post- gum surgery life substantially more enjoyable.
Get the stent
If your surgery involved using your own tissue rather than from a tissue bank, the roof of your mouth will remind you of that fact. If your dentist did not offer or suggest a stent to protect your palate, ask for one. A stent will greatly reduce bleeding and keep your tongue and food pieces away from the wound until the stitches come out.
Antibiotics to the rescue
Antibiotics are typically prescribed to patients after gum surgery to help prevent infection. This is important. Follow the instructions and run out the entire course to keep infection in check.
Pain meds and ice are your friends
Most patients experience facial swelling and sometimes bruising near the site of gum surgery. A tandem of pain medication and ice packs will ease what ails you. For best results with ice, start using cold packs on your face right after leaving the dentist. Then continue applying every 20-30 minutes through the entire day. Swelling will intensify further as healing kicks in and ice treatments are a saving grace.
Ice will go a long way in keeping the pain at manageable levels but if you’re still hurting, head to the pharmacy and pick up some over-the-counter medication. If you still have significant pain, talk to your dentist right away for other options.
Be smart with your diet
After your surgery, it’s time to be very savvy with what you eat and drink. Most importantly, avoid hot or cold foods and beverages. The shock of hot or cold will hurt like mad and may cause further swelling and you don’t want that. Go for items of neutral temperature.
Soft food is the answer. Think bananas, oatmeal, eggs, mashed potatoes, and the like to avoid irritating the surgery site.
Opt for a liquid diet for the first week or so. Drinking soup and some stews through a straw is a good approach. Really anything that won’t hurt your teeth works great.
Light exercise ONLY
You might want to get right back into your athletic warrior routine but hold up. No strenuous exercise for two full weeks. Period.
Of all the above remedies, rest is the one you simply can’t do without. Relax and let your body heal.
For more information on recovering from gum graft surgery, contact StarWhite Dental at (951) 228-0635 or starwhitedental.com.