Here's another in what I hope won't be a lengthy series of "don't worry" blog posts about scary sounding health procedures. (See "Root Canal is nothing to fear.")
I had a gum graft this morning. The worst thing about it was facing the fact that I'm old enough to need one, though I realize that people of all ages get gum grafts.
My dentist referred me to a Salem periodontist because he was worried that the beautiful bridge work he'd just redone, which had cost me more than a VW bug went for new back in the '60s, could be threatened by a receding gumline.
So he cheerily said, "I'd giving you a referral for a gum graft evaluation." That sounded ominous. So naturally I fired up Google as soon as I got home from the dentist's office.
I learned that its formal name is a gingival graft.
The usual approach is to
chop out borrow some tissue from the roof of your mouth. That is sutured on the gum line, where hopefully it finds a happy new home.
Now, on the Internet I've found that most stories people share about medical procedures have an overarching theme: When Things Go Wrong. So at the moment, the #3 Google search result for "gum graft" is titled "The Procedure From Hell."
The same was true when I researched root canals, and mine went fine. It seems that few patients are motivated to write about their experience when the message is, "No problems, mate."
I talked about this with the periodontist at my evaluation appointment. He said that a balance has to be struck between educating yourself online (good) and scaring yourself half to death (bad).
Speaking of death, one of my first questions to him was whether he did grafts using Alloderm, which I'd read about on the Internet. I liked the idea of not having tissue cut out of the roof of my mouth, and I thought that Alloderm was some sort of artificial material.
But I was told, "It comes from cadavers."
My instant reaction was that I didn't like the idea of having part of my gum be made from a dead person. Plus, my periodontist said that a graft is much more likely to "take" when a person's own tissue is used.
Thus at 9:30 this morning I found myself back in his office, getting ready to be injected with several shots of Novocaine.
Reassuringly, after he was done I heard, "That's the toughest part." And it was true.
I was out the door, my VISA card $840 poorer, in almost exactly an hour. I felt less pain than from a filling or crown work. Afterwards I popped some Ibuprofen that they'd given me, but haven't felt any need to fill a Vicodin prescription.
Everybody's different, of course. Your results may differ. For what it's worth, though, here's some tips and observations.
-- I kept my eyes open throughout the gum graft. Given how much it was costing me, I wanted to absorb every moment of the experience. Such as the drops of red on the gloves of the periodontist and his assistant. Be prepared to see some of your own blood, since there's cutting going on inside your mouth. No big deal -- the bleeding stopped soon.
-- Periodontists must make good fly fishermen, who tie their own lures. I was impressed with the dexterity it took to put in the sutures. Of course, I had an extreme close-up view, since the guy's hands were just a few inches away from my eyes.
-- I was fitted for a roof of the mouth retainer at my evaluation visit. Good move. It protects the site where tissue was removed. I'm barely aware of it now, after wearing it for about 11 hours. I was told that it can come off tomorrow, if I want to remove it. There hasn't been any discomfort at all from the roof of my mouth, probably partly because of this protective device.
-- Don't get home and figure that you can eat whatever you want, even if you're feeling no pain. After I took my first bite of spaghetti with semi-tangy sauce, I did feel some pain at the graft site. Bland food has been my watchword today. Tofu and rice. Macaroni and cheese. Coffee (not too hot), for a mood elevator. Mushrooms. Wine went down fine also.
-- I was given some PerioGard mouth rinse to use. Another good move, as that saved me from trying my usual Listerine mouthwash tonight. I suspect the alcohol in it would create another "ouch" moment, but I could be wrong.
-- Five hours after I had the gum graft, I was out mowing the grass. I read some gum graft stories on the Internet where people said they stayed in bed for days afterward. That may be necessary in some cases. But I wasn't told to do anything but live a normal life, which I've been doing all day (aside from trying to elicit some sympathy from my wife so I don't have to wash the dishes or empty the dishwasher).
I'll add my own comments to this post as my recovery period proceeds. If my brain falls out through the roof of my mouth, I'll let you know -- assuming I have enough gray matter left to type coherently.
For now, here's my bottom line: this was another example where my worries about what would happen turned out to be more of a problem than what actually happened.
I mean, my fretting about how painful the gum graft might be caused me more pain than the procedure itself. Sure, the anxiety was psychological rather than physical, but it was pain nonetheless.
So relax, if you're told you need a gum graft. If yours goes as smoothly as mine has so far, there's no need to worry about it.
This morning I found out I would be needing gingival graft(s) and I have been sick all day worrying about it. I am pretty tough when it comes to pain.....unless my mouth is involved. Thank you so much for sharing your story! All the other experiences I have read about tonight have been very very negative and fear inducing. Thanks again! Hope you are continuing to do well
Posted by: Cindy | November 24, 2008 at 08:05 PM
Thanks for this entry, I enjoyed reading it. Your experience is better than what i've read on others, It will help to encourage other people not to worry about when it comes to gum graft.Thanks again and good luck.
Posted by: orange county cosmetic dentistry | February 09, 2009 at 05:25 PM
I also read the posting "The Procedure from Hell" and it almost made me vomit. The trend that I'm seeing from all of these various posts is as follows: gum grafts are not a big deal if you need it for one tooth, but a huge painful mess if you need it for multiple teeth. I guess I'll go ahead and do it, as I only need it for one tooth. The exorbitant price still makes me pause, though.
Posted by: Ariel | March 03, 2009 at 03:49 PM
Just had a gum graft 2 days ago, and prior to the surgery, I asked my dentists assistant about the alloderm grafts, as the idea of cutting up my palate was not something I was looking forward to. The assistant answered my question of `does the tissue come from dead bodies?` with a laugh, and told me no, it is cultivated in a lab. Well now that I am home and have done research, I am disgusted by the idea of cadaver tissue in my mouth.
Posted by: Ashley | June 05, 2009 at 05:12 PM
Having procedure done on 5 possibly 6 teeth. My father had his whole mouth done & said it wasn't that bad. I find that if I have enough anxiety about a dental or medical procedure, I tend to deny pain (meaning I feel nothing at all). So I say, "welcome anxiety".
& already filled hydrocodone/apap just in case ;).
Posted by: Gina | July 18, 2009 at 08:41 AM
I had a gum graft on both sides of the bottom one day ago. I am doing okay. Wish I wouldn't have worried about it so much. I am okay. I get tired pretty easily.
Posted by: Molly | August 15, 2009 at 05:25 AM
I enjoyed your blog...i'm looking for some more "don't worry" blogs! Great!
Posted by: Mike | November 13, 2009 at 11:33 PM
I'm getting my first of two grafts in one week. The first will be done with Alloderm and the second with my own tissue from the top of my mouth. However, I was told the procedure is not as invasive as it once was?
Thanks for the blog--it has definately put me more at ease!
Posted by: Leslie | December 01, 2009 at 10:17 AM
hello friend excellent post about Gum graft goes fine (relax, if you need one) thanks for sharing !! nice site
Posted by: Generic Viagra | December 07, 2009 at 02:48 PM
hey there, thanks so much for this post. i had a consult yesterday and was told that i need to go in for 4 separate grafts. i pictured the dentist cutting out a huge chunk of the roof of my mouth and growing it in a jar for the remaining procedures. i've had 4 other dental surgeries in my life and, from what i've read here, the grafting seems like it'll be the least severe.
Posted by: kerry | December 16, 2009 at 09:44 AM
hey buddy great post about Gum graft goes fine (relax, if you need one) thanks for sharing!!
Posted by: Generic Viagra | January 04, 2010 at 08:47 AM
I had a gum graft yesterday. I didnt feel a thing then, and i dont feel anything now. Reading this 'procedure from hell' story got me quite worried in advance, but now I'm glad to say the author has much to blame himself actually - allthough I admire his sense of drama and story telling. I think he needs another operation.. one that will turn him into a man !
You can feel whether the anaesthetics are working or not. The part where they'll take the tissue from should feel numb.. if not, just tell your bloody periodontist so that he can apply some more anaesthetics!
I got a chunk of a kind chewing-gum in my mouth now to keep the transplant in place. This will be removed, together with the stitches, precisely 6 days after the surgery. During these 6 days I have to eat liquids / jellys / puddings, that is really the only inconvenience for me. The periodontist gave me pain killers for a week, but I just took one pain killer right after the operation and I won't be needing any more than that..
Gum graft, no big deal!
Posted by: Al | January 14, 2010 at 01:06 AM
Hi there. So I've been scouring the Internet in hopes of finding out whether gum grafts are really that big of a deal and am so glad to have found your testimonial! I'm having two teeth done in a couple of days and feel pretty nervous about it! I'm going to be taking Halcion during the procedure which also makes me nervous since I've never taken it before and I also read on another site about the pain being worse than childbirth! At any rate, reading your story (and some of the other comments) made me feel better. Thanks! :)
Posted by: AG | April 27, 2010 at 05:54 PM
i`m getting them done in 7 hours and honestly other than your ``chop out`` part this did help. unfortunately i`m also getting 2 wisdom teeth removed, a frenectomy and the cherry on the top of a bad situation...a filling. All in the same sitting.
Posted by: J | May 28, 2010 at 02:12 AM
Hi again, just an update to my previous post since I had some surprises that I wish I would have known were coming. I had the two gum grafts a little over a month ago. By the third day I had lots of bruising all around my eye (under and in the inner/upper corner) as well as a lot of swelling in my lower jaw. I had one upper tooth and one lower tooth grafted. I was pretty religious about keeping an ice pack on the affected area and also taking Ibuprofen every 4-6 hours but it didn't help the bruising or swelling it seemed. It's now a month later and while the bruising is gone, I still have a slight protrusion on my lower jaw which I'm concerned about. The periodontist says it is most likely unrelated to the procedure, but I'm going in again to have her take a look in a few days just to be sure everything's fine. Another drawback I experienced is numbness on the roof of my mouth where they took the graft tissue from. At a month later, I still have lack of sensation at the incision site, all along the line where the tissue was taken. These were all surprises to me. My main concern is the jaw going back to normal and looking JUST like my other one again. It's not severe, but I notice it and before the gum grafts, my two jaws looked the same I'm pretty sure. As for the grafts themselves, they are healing nicely and look normal except for really thick (the perio says that will be normal in 3 mos) and aside from a little flappy gum area that is part of the excess that she put in (she'll probably laser it off at the 3 month follow-up), everything is good. Hope this helps someone who is about to get gum grafts! Also, FYI I had the newer, more modern type of graft where they stitch up the roof of your mouth after removing some underlying tissue for the graft rather than the older way of just removing a piece of the roof of your mouth and leaving it open (some people said it felt like a bad pizza burn). Finally -- the procedure itself was a breeze. I didn't feel a thing mostly and when I did feel a little something they gave me more novocaine. The Halcion was pretty good as well -- it just makes you "ok" with whatever they are doing and does have some amnesic effect (I just remember pressure and the perio coaching me saying I was doing awesome, etc). The "bad" stuff with the swelling/bruising began the next day, peaked on day 3 and slowly dwindled down over the next 2 weeks.
Posted by: AG | June 01, 2010 at 12:40 AM
Hey everyone, I just had my gum graft done (6.27.10) actually while on vacation in Amman, Jordan...the surgery was not that bad, the worst part was the stitching part of the operation, where I think the Novacaine was fading....the surgery took about ninty minutes and the worst side effect is the lack to eat anything you want and the constant bleeding in my mouth....though the Gum Graft surgery was not that difficult
P.S. keep your eyes closed during the whole thing, the Peridontist asst was crying the entire time.
Posted by: Joey | June 28, 2010 at 12:30 AM
I'm a 20 year old female and I cannot stand the sight of blood and have never had a surgery (besides wisdom teeth). So the idea of a gum graft is absolutely terrifying to me. Of course I went online and read the horror stories (Procedure From Hell) which happen to be the first search results. I was literally crying. So I have my surgery in 3 days and am still scared to death, but thank you for giving me a bit of optimism :)
Posted by: Sarah | August 22, 2010 at 01:07 PM
I'm a 39 year old woman who needs a total of 6 teeth grafted. I opted for 3 surgeries (grafting 2 at a time) due to the cost each time ($1500) and due to the recovery, ie chewing on different parts of my mouth. I had the first two done 5 days ago and seem to be on my way to a nice recovery. I planned on taking off of work for the surgery, but needed to take the day after as well. Not having my super hot coffee has been my biggest hardship. (I love my Dunkin Donuts hazelnut coffee). There is still minor swelling, eating is still not fun, but all in all it's not the worst procedure in the world. I still have a waxy thingy (non-scientific term) on the roof of my mouth, so that has not bothered be at all.
Realistically, I've told everyone, the first week after the surgery isn't fun. It's not god-awful, but not a walk in the park. I liken it to the recovery I experienced after LASIK 2 years ago.
Best part is...once it's done properly, you should never need a graft in that area again.
Happy healing, everyone!!
Posted by: Missy | August 28, 2010 at 06:42 AM
Thank you for this blog entry. You are so right, most of the information out there is so negative! I am going in for this surgery today and you have eased my mind.
Posted by: Tara Carpenter | September 01, 2010 at 08:52 AM
I just had the gum graft done yesterday and it was very much like the first person described it. Wish I read this before to lessen my anxiety. My biggest problem is not being able to drink coffee. Can i drink lukewarm coffee?
Anyone done that without a problem?
Posted by: gael | September 09, 2010 at 04:41 PM
I'm 15 years old and I'm having it Thursday of this week,, I have been worring myself since he had told me. All the comments and stories on here has got me worried. What do they first do before the surgery? I hope your still doing good. Thanks
Posted by: taylor | September 12, 2010 at 09:36 PM
taylor, I'm doing fine, gum-wise. I healed fairly quickly and no longer notice or think about the gum graft. I brush my teeth normally, and eat normally.
I suspect you'll find that the surgery is the easiest part of the procedure. Your mouth will be numbed. I don't recall feeling any pain. But as I noted in this post, the top of my mouth, where the gum graft was taken, was sensitive for quite a while.
I never added an update about my experience because it went smoothly. I did have some problems getting the retainer out and needed to get some tips from the periodontist's office -- which unfortunately I've now forgotten. I think I may have used a tool of some sort to pry it from the roof of my mouth when my fingers weren't sufficient.
Anyway, try to relax. In my 61-year old experience, which is about four times yours, time-wise, I've learned that almost always my fears about the future turn out to be more scary than the reality. Meaning, my worries are more likely to be excessive, than too small.
My prediction is that you'll find the gum graft goes more smoothly than you're expecting. Afterwards, probably you won't be perfectly comfortable. But, hey, that's life. It isn't always comfortable. And you're doing the right thing to deal with your gum problem now, rather than later.
Posted by: Brian Hines | September 12, 2010 at 09:55 PM
Thanks a lot I can take pain I got a little scared when they said the word surgery. Thanks again for helping Me I'm glad I'm doing it now then later. Your note has helped me in a lot of ways.
Posted by: taylor | September 13, 2010 at 09:53 AM
im 16 years old and i was told to day that i need a gum graft and the will be using cadavers not my skin tissue because there is a lack of it .... hence why i need the gum graft.... i am scared to death and at the fact that i will be awake through the whole procedure ..... what do you do to stay calm ?
Posted by: tesla cain | September 14, 2010 at 08:33 AM
tesla, one way to stay calm is to embrace and accept your nervousness. Relax, how you're feeling is normal. You're going to experience something new that's more than a little strange - cadaver tissue and all that.
Look upon this as a necessary adventure. You need to have the gum graft. A few months from now you'll look back and say "Hey, that wasn't so bad."
As I noted to another commenter, almost certainly the procedure itself will be almost painless. You'll just need to go through some discomfort during the recovery time.
You can handle it. Go in with a smile and come out with a smile. Later you'll frown -- when you eat something spicy, or whatever, and feel a sting, but that's no big deal.
And you're lucky if, as I assume, tissue won't be taken from the roof of your mouth. That should make the healing process go quicker compared to people, like me, who had the gum graft done with their own tissue.
Posted by: Blogger Brian | September 14, 2010 at 10:12 AM
I just had a gum graft (gingival I think?) done on two teeth next to each other and did not know how serious the procedure can be until after the operation! I am an English teacher living and working in South Korea and have found dental prices here to be half of stateside. Each tooth cost the equivalent of $350. Honestly, I would recommend that if you trust your dentist (BIG "if") then do not read all of the horror stories out there. Do the research after the fact :) If you trust them enough, then doing in-depth research on the subject can lead to a lot of worrying and stress before the actual operation takes place.
I have part of the roof of my mouth cut to place on the graft site of 2 teeth on the bottom and they put the super glue like topical stuff on both the donor and receiving teeth site. The only problem was that the donor site glue fell off on my first sneeze! Within 2 hours. So very sensitive and somewhat painful and on about 4-5 Tylenol a day for the first 4 days. Still nothing too serious. Not serious enough to keep me from hiking up a city mountain in Seoul on the first day after the surgery and no complaints (I was probably lucky to have no complication from the hike. Also, the light exercise helped to take my mind off of it). Take my advice, don't research gum grafts if you trust your dentist implicitly and just go for it. And then use common sense and follow their instructions. I also used antibiotics and gargled with mouthwash everyday.
Posted by: Jeremy Pettitt | November 03, 2010 at 06:45 AM
ps. by the way, I should mention that dental care in South Korea is excellent. I also found an American dentist who I go to for whom language is not a barrier
Posted by: Jeremy Pettitt | November 03, 2010 at 06:49 AM
Thank you for posting your experience. I was putting my procedure off for fear of how bad it would be. Then I found out I was pregnant and got even more worried since gingivitis can present itself or get worse when you are pregnant. So I made the appointment. I was nervous about having to take Tylenol and antibiotics but they said it was safe for the baby and could be worse in the long run if I don't do it. So I'm going in two weeks. Thanks for easing my mind a little on the matter. Still not looking forward to it, but the health of my baby is more important than my fear of gum surgery.
Posted by: Katherine W | November 09, 2010 at 12:12 PM
I got a gum graft on 2 of my teeth just a day ago. Because i am 35 weeks pregnant they had to use a local anesthetic. I didn't really feel much but i could hear the scraping across my gums:-/ About 2 hours after the surgery my head was pounding and my jaw was sore. I laid down for an hour and then went into work later that day. i felt horrible but the pain finally eased up! Also, because im pregnant the only medicine i will take is tylenol. Today I woke up sore but i dont have much swelling, bleeding, or horrible pain. The only down side is its hard to eat!! Ive had worse pain being pregnant then i've had with this procedure.
Posted by: Kayla | November 12, 2010 at 08:36 AM
Since your post eased my mind, I thought I'd add to the comments to ease the minds of others.
My periodontist and dentist have been monitoring the receding gum on my lower front teeth for over a decade. Finally they decided it was time to fix it.
I had it done last Tuesday afternoon. I can honestly say that having a periodontal cleaning (which is a bit more harsh than a regular cleaning)is more painful. The worst part was he had the chair tilted so far back that I thought I'd slip out. After an hour of hanging like a bat, I felt a bit woozy when he tilted my back up. ;)
At home I was diligent about icing the area to avoid swelling and I had none.
I had warm soup for dinner. No problem. Someone above mentioned that their palate felt like a bad pizza burn. My doc took the graft from the side of my palate and, except for feeling the stitches with my tongue, it's totally unnoticeable. Also, there was no bleeding from the time I left his office.
That night I took an Aleve before bed and slept fine. The next day was totally pain free and the only thing I felt was the putty over the graft. Again, I ate soft food but made the mistake of eating cottage cheese which stuck to my palate and I had to wash it off with iced tea (no big deal...just saying think ahead).
Brushing my teeth was a bit of a challenge because I had to "think" about what I was doing.
The second morning I awoke with a little pain for no apparent reason, so I must have bumped it during the night. Another Aleve solved that problem.
I'm still eating soft foods but that's mostly because I stocked up on them before the surgery. I've decide to stick to the soft until after my follow up with the doc next Tuesday.
In summery, pretty much every other dental procedure I've had, including deep cleanings, where worse and worthy of more worrying than this graft.
Hope that helps and thanks to Brian for his post and everyone else for their replies.
Posted by: Patrick Mc. | November 12, 2010 at 11:19 AM
I would like to hear more from people who had the cadaver tissue used for their grafts. Successful?
Posted by: Chris | January 09, 2011 at 10:40 PM
This blog is great...thanks for all the postings!
Getting my first graft done this week on the bottom left side of my mouth.
Now I'm not "as" worried.
Posted by: Beth | January 12, 2011 at 09:38 AM
I will be having a graft on one tooth in a few weeks. I am curious the feedback on the newer procedure, where the pockeet is created on the side of the mouth and then sutured, versus the cut of the roof of the mouth that is left as an open wound. The price difference is extreme but what is the difference in healing and procedure?
Posted by: naomi | February 04, 2011 at 08:24 PM
naomi, I haven't heard of the procedure you mentioned. The only gum graft I've ever had is the old-fashioned one I wrote about in this blog post.
What you describe sounds like it would heal faster and be less painful than the old (and apparently cheaper) way. You should do some Google'ing and see what patients have said about the "pocket" method.
I just made a quick Google search and couldn't find mention of what you talked about. If you know the official name of the procedure, you probably could find info on it better than I could.
Posted by: Blogger Brian | February 04, 2011 at 08:33 PM
Hi! I'm a 21 year old student and just had the graft yesterday. Brian, your account is completely consistent with mine--I had the graft on three bottom teeth (I believe the canine and the teeth on either side). The procedure, while strange, was completely painless thanks to the novocaine injections. I wasn't prescribed any pain medication, and have just been taking tylenol extra strength and amoxicillin to prevent infection. I also have the retainer/guard-like thing protecting the palate area, and packing material over the gumline. Aside from looking slightly funny thanks to the packing material peeking out from my gumline onto my teeth, I haven't experienced any discomfort or negative effects. I've gone easy with food and have eaten mostly apple sauce, yogurt, etc, but I think chewing on the opposite side would be fine. I don't have a huge pain tolerance, but I think most of the experiences documented are atypical and completely overblown. I am shocked at how simple and painless the procedure has been thus far.
Posted by: Samantha | February 19, 2011 at 06:42 AM
I had one done two days ago. Not much to it. There is a bit of pain today, mild swelling and just annoying discomfort. I can think of better ways to spend March Break, but it's nothing to worry about. I was terrified when I went in and it was done in like 15 minutes. For some reason the pain was worse after 48 hours. Just had a chicken breast chopped up into little pieces. Best thing ever. Bottom line, don't worry, I've had root Canals and they are worse.
Posted by: JLM | March 09, 2011 at 06:54 PM
Just had mine done as well...
It's all psychological. There was no pain at all (except it kinda tickled when he scrapped my old gums).
Only downside is that I haven't eaten a "Real" meal in a few weeks, but once it's fully healed it will all be worth it.
P.s. Healing doesn't hurt either.
Posted by: Eel | March 11, 2011 at 12:02 PM
Thank you for this post! In a few weeks, I'm scheduled to have my first gum graft (3 front *lower* teeth) and I'm beyond terrified. Obviously one - because of the pain/healing but I'm also very nervous about the whole process and how successful it truly is in the end. The one thing I didn't like what the periodontist said is he "may" have to go back to this one tooth (the one out of the 3 for the first graft) because it's really bad - with the entire root exposed. I gave him a weird look and he said "Well, I'm very good at what I do and have done alot of grafts but this one is bad." That didn't sit well with me. I feel like if he is so "good" at what he does, shouldn't it be done right the first time? Or is this normal? Has anyone out there had to do the same tooth/area twice? How long does it take to heal? And this periodontist never fitted me for a retainer - so now I'm ever more worried in this whole process & the roof of my mouth. I tried to make another appointment with another periodontist/for a second opinion (one who uses Alloderm and doesn't cut from the roof of your mouth) but he's booked until mid April and I was told I need to do this soon or I'll lose my tooth. That part, I know the periodontist is being honest because the recession went from bad to horrible so quickly. After reading this blog, I'm less worried and am happy to read it's not the worst thing to go through, but I'm still beyond scared, I can't stop thinking about this. I've been screwed over far too many times with dentists and orthodontists who at one time, I fully trusted and in the end, I have more damage & I feel like I can't trust any of these people anymore. I know the key is to finding the right periodontist/dentist but the one I was referred to, is making me think twice. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
P.S. Does anyone have pics of their before and after?
Posted by: Renee | March 12, 2011 at 08:30 PM
I'm 26 years old and I just had a gum graft done on my lower tooth (#24). It's been 5 hours since I left the dentist's office, and luckily I have no swelling, pain, or bleeding. I think I met a really good periodontist. Cost me $875.
Anyway, I just wanted to say "THANK YOU!" for this post. Your post really calmed my nerves :) Before I found this blog, I had watched a couple youtube videos and it really freaked me out.
To everyone that's scared or worried: Make sure you do your homework and find a good periodontist! Ask around and also check to see if there are reviews on Yelp or Google.
Posted by: jennie | March 19, 2011 at 05:49 PM
Your post is awesome and I wish I had read about it sooner - would have saved me a lot of nervous worry. I had a gum graft done on one of my bottom front teeth and my dentist used the cadaver tissue. Someone earlier had asked about those who have used it and I can say that so far I have had a very good experience.
My graft was on Friday, March 25th, and because there was no cutting or scraping on the roof of my mouth, or elsewhere, I was, and still am, in virtually no pain. The area where the graft is feels a bit bruised when I move my lip a certain way - say a word or make a face. That's it. I took pain meds the first half day out of concern, but I was totally fine Saturday morning and have been taking nothing since. In fact, because of the location of the graft and, again, no cutting anywhere else in my mouth, I am on virtually no food restrictions. If I can cut it up, I can eat it. I am to avoid biting into anything (like a sandwich), pulling at my lip to stare at the graft, and running my tongue along my front teeth, and that's it.
It is now Wednesday and while I am avoiding any foods that might create little crumbs that would tempt me to run my tongue along my bottom teeth, I'm happily doing fine. I see the dentist on Saturday for a check-up and we'll go from there.
I, too, have heard about the chance of the "synthetic" graft not taking, but based on my discussion with my dentist it was a very small chance. So, we wait and see, but I am beyond happy about the whole experience. And now that I have been through this, I know that I would be _totally_ fine if I had to have the more traditional procedure. No biggie, folks.
Posted by: Linda | March 30, 2011 at 03:52 PM
I just had my 2nd graft done. 4 teeth, all lowers. I had Alloderm done, I didnt even consider my own palate. If all goes well, you'll be fine. Most of my recover involved my feeling a sensation in my mouth ... you know something happened, but it's not pain, per say. I remember when I had this done in October I was most bothered by my inability to smile, but not by pain or swelling.
The first time, the valium, my ipod (crucial!), and the novocaine really did the trick. I was surprisingly relaxed, but definitely kept my eyes jammed shut. It seemed to "go by fast," whatever that means in dental time warp world.
The second time, one of my teeth didnt quite numb fully. I was given something to bite on and definitely felt something going on, but it still wasn't awful.
I would caution everyone about recovery ... my graft is now exposed and it is extremely painful. I'm 2 weeks out and still on antibiotics and now starting codeine. I wish I could say what I'd do differently ... maybe stay out of work until the swelling subsides?
Posted by: Massachusetts | March 31, 2011 at 07:14 PM
this was SO great to read! I too wondered if all the bad stories on the internet are something to freak out about..I had crowns done, no problem at all..thanks for the blog and also the pricing..my guy said $1600 and that seems way high..I am getting a second opinion..
Posted by: Danna | April 11, 2011 at 11:41 AM
I had my graft done 6 days ago and the graft is still white. How long does it take before the color comes back. I'm afraid the tissue is dead. =o(
Posted by: Kristen | April 13, 2011 at 04:23 PM
Kristen, I'm no expert on gum grafts, having had only one, but it sure seems like six days is pretty early to tell whether yours has "taken." I'd relax and wait a while longer before worrying too much. Have you asked your dentist/periodontist if what you've observed is normal?
Posted by: Blogger Brian | April 13, 2011 at 08:37 PM
I had a graft done almost two weeks ago. I was TERRIFIED! And I am a baby about these things. I can tell you in all honesty, the worst part of the procedure was the worry before hand. I postponed for about a year I was so nervous. I didn't take anything to calm me before hand and I was fine. The novocaine shots do hurt but that's it, you don't feel anything after. I also opted for the "older" version of the procedure where the roof of your mouth cut is left open as it was nearly $1000 cheaper, and I am glad I went the cheap route. The cut isn't even deep. It really didn't even feel like anything after. I had no pain. Eating is tricky, and it's slightly uncomfortable but there was no pain at any time. I only had to have one tooth done and maybe this helped, but if I ever do it again I won't be as nervous. And I highly recommend my periodontist (Dr Larry Shapiro in Coral Springs, FL). He is the best!
Posted by: Naomi | April 19, 2011 at 08:30 AM
So thankful you took the time to post this. I've been putting off a needed graft for years due to fear and finances and am about to make the appointment now. Thank you for taking the time to put others at ease!
Posted by: Kate | April 20, 2011 at 09:54 AM
Just wanted to be another echo in the "this isn't so bad" camp. With all the horror stories out there, it can't hurt to have ANOTHER person saying that they worried WAY too much about this.
I had a single tooth gum graft yesterday. I am now only taking 2 regular strength ibuprofen every 4 or 5 hours (they offered vicodin, but it makes me sick).
We'll see how the healing process goes, but so far, I feel like I worried WAY too much about the whole thing.
I also didn't have Halcion or Valium or anything. I just closed my eyes when I knew they were removing the tissue from my mouth.
Posted by: Lindsay | April 23, 2011 at 06:36 PM
About 3 months ago I went in for a cleaning and was told by the dentist that my lower gums had receeded to the point where he believed I needed a graft. I had not been to the dentist in about 2.5 years. I have excellent home care habits and was shocked at this news. I went to a peridontist and was told that I in fact needed 3 grafts. I have been so nervous (due mainly to researching the procedure online). I went in this morning and had them done. The whole thing was over in less than 2 hours. I felt more dicomfort from the novicane shots than anything else. I came home and took a nap for about 2 hours. I was given a RX for Motrin (800mg) and also for a powerful pain killer called Lortab. I took one of the motrine and have had no pain all day. I do not plan to take the Lortab. Long story short- if you are fearing this procedure please try to relax. Everyone is different and reacts differently to pain, but honestly I wouldnt worry. After all, the price for not getting this done is far more severe. So to sum up; minimal pain/minimal bleeding and I had this done (3 grafts) just hours ago.
Posted by: Edward | May 13, 2011 at 03:14 PM
I just got a gum graft done on monday and I was just curious as to when the donor skin begins to reconnect to the blood vessels in the gum and change to a pinkish colour rather than the white colour it is right now?
Posted by: Ash | June 15, 2011 at 09:20 AM
I had 9 lower teeth grafted (#s 20-29) one week ago using the tissue from the roof of my mouth. I was given Halcion about 30 minutes before the procedure and fell asleep before they started working on me. They would occasionally ask me to open wider which I always heard and complied but I didn't care at all what they were doing. They used local anesthetic and I didn't feel anything until they were almost done and they gave me more. All in all, the surgery part, which I was most fearful of, was a breeze.
They gave me both percocet and scrip motrin and I survived solely on motrin and Tylenol. I stopped taking that after day 5. Eating has been challenging. I'm trying to maintain a balanced diet with enough protein (shaved deli turkey) and plenty of mushy fruits and veggies (applesauce, bananas, avacado). Smoothies (banana, vanilla yogurt, milk, peanut butter, and chocolate protein powder) are filling.
At this point I am mostly just annoyed with all the dressings in my mouth which don't come out for another week. They have also told me not to exercise for 3 weeks following which is very hard for me. Apparently increasing your heart rate can cause bleeding.
Bottom line is surgery itself is easy. Recovery is a annoying. I had 9 done at once which is a lot so I think my recovery has taken a bit longer. I had some swelling of my jaw but no bruising. Dressing puffs out my lip a bit so I look like I am dipping. I read this before my surgery and again today and was now wondering what all my anxiety was about.
Posted by: Jen | June 15, 2011 at 05:51 PM
I had one grafting from a donor 2 days ago and have no pain at all. Before the surgery I was so nervous because of all the bad things that I read.I had 2 Tylenol before the procedure and as soon as I got home I put an ice pack. I didn't take any other pain killers. 1st day I ate chicken noodle soup and also had some chips without any problem. 2nd day I had more soup, rice, eggs and chips. Still no problems.
The worst part of all this is that the Dr. put like a hard chewing gum to cover it and it shows on my teeth when I smile which is kind of embarrassing. Wish I can take it off but I don't want to risk. Maybe I should wait until I see the Dr. next week.
Removing the wisdom teeth was much worst.
Good luck to all!!
Posted by: Sandra | June 16, 2011 at 04:22 PM
I had the Alloderm graft put in a few days ago and I didn't realize it was from human tissue until a few minutes before the operation. I don't remember if I was ever told origin of the material and I apparently didn't check the pamphlet they gave me. I am quite freaked out now about having human tissue in my mouth. I have had grafting done with tissue from the roof of my mouth before and it is unpleasant, but I still would have chosen that if I had done my research correctly before the operation. I'm hoping this can be a lesson to others. Also, I didn't tell my dentist that I had a graft done maybe 20 years before. He had trouble with old scar tissue and would have approached the surgery differently had he known.
Posted by: Stephane | June 24, 2011 at 06:53 AM
I had an Alloderm graft done yesterday. I don't see the big deal having donated human tissue as all the cells are dead and it is sterilized etc. It is a lot less invasive than cutting the roof of your mouth. The only uncomfortable part was putting the freezing in as it kept hitting the nerve by my ear giving me a shock. But it didn't last long. Then I didn't feel a thing. Eating is the only difficult part. I will wait and see if it "takes". I felt pain after when I let the Tylenol 3 wear off but today there is pretty much no pain, just stiff.
Posted by: denielle | July 19, 2011 at 07:50 AM
I totally agree with the iPod comment. That helped more than anything. Had my graft this morning... So far so good. Also, mine cost $780.00, but I also have insurance that will pick up the rest so that may be the reason for the wide range of costs in this blog. Great read!
Posted by: Kristy | August 18, 2011 at 09:06 PM
This morning mine was about $650 and was my 3rd.
The worst part is the scalpel hitting the hard part of the palatte. You hear the scraping of the knife in your ears. Music may mitigate this.
I have never taken meds for the pain, after having all 4 wizdom teeth pulled either, but the antibiotics are a must.
Posted by: Trevor | October 06, 2011 at 10:24 AM
I've enjoyed reading everyone's experiences! I, too, scared myself to death with research on the internet, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I psyched myself up for.
Had 3 grafts done about about a month ago - all on my front lower arch. I opted for local anesthetic only, so I could drive myself home after - started out with 2 or 3 shots in each area (1st bicuspids R/L, front incisors), and a couple of shots on each side of my palate. None of the shots were terrible - a pinch and a sting, even in the roof of my mouth. They re-numbed as they went too, whenever I said I could feel it.
The only alarming moment was when she cut the tissue from the right side of my palate - had a sort of shooting sensation, which wasn't really painful, but felt like an electric shock. I assume that's when she cut through a nerve, and it was fine after that. I wore headphones, and listened to music - I could hear them talking, but not the cutting/scraping or anything. The procedure took about 90 minutes.
Afterwards, they packed the palate incisions with putty, and put a dressing over the graft sites. I had already filled prescriptions for Percocet, and 600mg Ibuprofen, plus Chlorhexadine mouthwash,& antiobiotics. I didn't need the Percocet, because it was never really painful - just a little uncomfortable, and the Ibuprofen took care of that nicely. I have zero tolerance for pain, so that was my biggest fear - never had any pain, though, even from the frenectomy, which the Perio said was likely to be very uncomfortable. Big relief.
Hot tea was my biggest loss, and I subsisted on ice cream, jello, pudding, applesauce, lukewarm soup, and lukewarm tea for a few days. With both sides of my palate covered in putty, it was hard to eat - had to put food on the back of my tongue and just swallow No chewing allowed. Mashed potatoes with gravy, or baked beans, went down quite easily too after about a week.
I iced every 20 mins the first day, and "slept" propped up for 2 nights, but still had a lot of swelling and bruising - swelling was at its worst by day 2, then started going down, but the bruising was terrible. My entire chin, from my lip all the way underneath to my neck, was purple, and even now, 4 weeks on, is still discolored - it looks like 5 o'clock shadow. Has anyone else had a problem with that? I hope it's not permanent.
Overall, it was less intense than a root canal, if that's any encouragement!
Posted by: Jill | October 16, 2011 at 05:50 PM
I got a graft done this past Thursday, and they took it from the right side of my palate. Yesterday and today the right side of my face is sore and I have a slight headache. Has anyone else experienced a headache after? Does it last long?
Posted by: Brilla | October 18, 2011 at 06:04 PM
I had a gum graft for one front upper canine tooth three days ago. If your doctor uses up-to-date equipment, he or she will use very fine needles to inject the novacaine, so getting the shots to numb you hardly hurt at all. The operation took about one hour and was completely painless.
After the operation I drove myself home and took 4 aspirins (the maximum allowable dosage). I felt a dull ache but little pain, really. After the aspirin wore off I didn't feel the need to take any more.
My experience leads me to feel that you need to ensure you get a good, up-to-date doctor and if you do your pain will be minimal.
Thanks for the helpful info on this web site that put me at ease enough to go through with what turned out to be a pretty simple operation!
Posted by: BobbieCD | December 09, 2011 at 01:25 AM
I'm 24 years old and I've joined the 5-10% of the population with receding gums. This is my third day of recovery after undergoing a connective tissue gum graft surgery.
How it worked for me: My periodontist zeroed in on the two canines on either side of my mouth. He sliced into my gums above each tooth & the teeth surrounding, so that instead of connecting with my teeth, the outer layer of gum was now a sort of flap, unveiling the bloody/fleshy under layer of gum tissue. He then used some sort of blunt tool to push & shove the now-exposed tissue this way & that, leaving a nice little pocket for the AlloDerm (cadaver gum tissue) to fit in nice & snug. Once secure, he then pulled the outer-gum flap back down to its original position, & sewed her up. (This is by no means a gentle procedure, but with all the anesthetic & nitrous oxide, you don't really care.)
Result: fatter gums. Over the next few weeks, the tissue will begin to disperse & drop, hopefully halting & reversing the effects of my gum recession.
When I first learned I would need this procedure, I was horrified. I began combing the internet looking for people who have undergone the same ordeal. Misery loves company, & naturally I was most drawn to the recounts of dental chair torture & nightmarish results. The most memorable post, aptly titled "The Procedure From Hell", did not do much to placate my fears.
All of my panic-driven research ultimately paid off. I began jotting down concerns as they arose. Before I knew it, I had four sheets printed off with a total of some 40 questions with which I peppered my periodontist during my consultation. He was a trooper & elaborated on all of them.
My online scouting also informed me of the five magic words that will get you the best of the best in terms of medicine upgrades: "I have extreme dental fears." This nifty phrase wasn't entirely false; hell, knowing the basics of the procedure alone gives me shivers. My periodontist understood my concerns & wrote me a prescription for Valium to take the night before surgery, to help me relax & get some much-needed rest. If you're having this surgery done, I highly recommend taking this path. My periodontist only performs this surgery on patients who are awake but numb. Some periodontists do offer an drug called Halcion, which comes in the form of an IV drip & is supposed to eliminate your conception of time & surroundings. I called my insurance & they do not consider Halcion "customary or reasonable" & so unless I wanted to shell out a wad of extra cash, I was left with the standard sedation.
My surgery was scheduled for 8 AM. I woke up at 7 to swallow my dental cocktail: a mix of periodontist-prescribed drugs that will make you completely indifferent to the notion of having your gums carved out in the immediate future. I'd also been taking anti-inflamatories for the 24-hours leading up to surgery. Because of the heavy sedatives, I wasn't allowed to drive to the office, where the surgery would be taking place. Because there is no need for an anesthesiologist, it's typical for gum grafts to be performed in-office.
The periodontist did a great job notifying me about exactly what I should expect on my surgery day, except for one detail. I was assured that I would not remember (or care) about a thing that happened during those hours in the dental chair. Even as I was signing in, the receptionist chuckled & told me I wouldn't be remembering any of this. That was not the case.
I had taken two sedatives prescribed for my surgery that morning, on top of a Valium. I was now hooked up to nitrous oxide & told to breath deeply. I did. I was still a wreck of nerves. The dental assistants registered a low-heartrate (a good sign that the drugs were doing their thing), however, my pulse was still skyrocketing (a sign of the contrary to the prior). When asked how I felt, I responded with "extremely anxious", which also indicated that I wasn't quite ready for the knife. The nitrous oxide was turned up & I was given a pill to swallow to assist in sedating me. After it was evident that this would also have no discernible effect, the decision was made to go ahead with the procedure. I should note; I was given plenty of local anesthetic & did not feel any pain throughout the procedure. The difficult part for me was to relax for the 5 1/2 hours it took to complete the surgery.
Although I do remember everything that occurred during my oral surgery, even the messier bits, I don't regret it. As the surgery progressed & I realized that this would not be a painful procedure, I did begin to let myself relax a bit & become less tense. Afterwards, when the periodontist & his assistant left the room to clean up, I took the opportunity to jump up & grab my phone out of my purse to document the tools used.
Overall, not a terrible experience. The healing is underway & I find out in two days if the AlloDerm tissue took. If it is rejected, I get to do the whole kit & kaboodle over again, except likely with tissue cut from the roof of my mouth. Crossing my fingers this isn't the case.
I can deal with the soft (i.e. liquid only) diet I must endure for the next month or so, but it's hard to cope with not smiling. When I do, I can feel the stitches stretching out & it kills. When a friend makes me laugh unexpectedly, I find myself cupping my palms around my cheeks & pushing them together to physically keep myself from smiling. Hopefully I heal quickly!
Posted by: Cat Coquillette | December 13, 2011 at 07:35 PM
Had gum grafts done 6 days ago on four front lower teeth using tissue from the roof of my mouth. My dental office was gracious enough to give me laughing gas (nitrous?) on the house when I declined initially because of the $50 out-of-pocket expense (I had not thought the procedure would be that big of a deal. I've had 3 children, one naturally, you know?). Bottom line: I was so loopy that I didn't worry at all during the procedure. I do know that I was in the procedural office for more than 2 hours. I know I was numbed initially on the surface, then given injections using very small needles. Most of the time, I drifted with my eyes shut. Anyway, the procedure was, on a scale of 0 to 10 in terms of stress, about a 1.
I have a clear plastic retainer fitted to the roof of my mouth - was to wear it 24/7 for the first couple of days and then while eating and sleeping after.
The biggest surprise for me has been in the recovery. The swelling peaked on day 2/3, but I didn't realize how much this would affect my whole head. Massive headache with sore and tender mouth. Leaves me feeling like I have strep or something. Never had a toothache before so now I understand how debilitating that must be. Yesterday I was doing great and then the surface skin of the wound on the roof of my mouth started to come away and it felt like a giant open blister. Still hurts quite a bit today. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most painful, the last 6 days my pain has ranged from a 0 to a 10, averaging at about a 6.
Been living on alternating doses of Percoset and 800 mg. Ibuprofen. Still have aching pain most of the time but the level is manageable this way.
Bottom teeth, where grafts are, really are not too sore.
Anyway, will have checkup at 2.5 weeks. We'll see how this all goes! Meanwhile, I've lost 5 pounds of all that joy I had over the holidays - not a bad side effect!
Posted by: Laura | January 10, 2012 at 04:01 AM
HI I have to have gum grafting done soon and very very scared. I have some questions does it bruise and how long do you have to eat soft foods? I am a cashier so i will have to talk alot how long should i take off work?
Posted by: Tina | February 23, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Tina, my experience may not be like yours, but I recall that I ate soft foods for three or four days. For me it wasn't so much the hardness of food that was a problem, but spiciness. Even mildly spiced spaghetti sauce stung for a while.
I don't remember any problem talking. Maybe you won't need to take any time off from work at all, except the day of the procedure. It's normal to be scared. Probably, though, you'll find that the gum graft will go easier than you expect.
Posted by: Brian Hines | February 23, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Just had my graft 4 days ago. Three lower teeth front and center. Not really a problem. Day 2 I developed a small "liver clot" (blood clot, size of a pea) behind my lower teeth. Called the doc and he said he sees it once or twice a year and to leave it alone and in a couple of days it would "fall" off. It did last night. Also, like Trevor (a few postings above), my bruising in my chin is extensive and I look like a bearded lady! The kids don't like to be seen with me. Hope that dissipates sooner than later!
Posted by: Karen | March 05, 2012 at 08:52 AM
Hi, I am 19 years old and had a graft 12 days ago. I got my stitches out after 10 days. The procedure wasn't bad and the only real pain was only for about an hour after the novacane wore off. Everything's looking good but I have a question for anyone who will be kind enough to answer. The area where the stitches were in the roof of my mouth is a bit swollen. Like, there's a lump there. It sort of feels like what a fat lip would feel like but without the pain. It doesn't hurt at all, nor does it look bad. It's not horribly unbearable but it is a little annoying. I'm really hoping this swelling goes down, did anyone experience this? Is the swelling going to go down or is it just thicker from the healing process? Any advice would be great. Thanks.
Posted by: Mark | March 28, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Just had mine done this morning.... I was so scared I actually cried. The worst part was the needles in the bottom where the had to graft. I have the two front bottom teeth done. I have no pain at all. No bleeding either. This was not bad. They told me I may have to come back and have another one. I'm not even worried about it. I'm a 26 year old female And I was so scared for today I couldn't sleep couldn't eat. But seriously it's no worst then having a filling done. You feel nothing. It's a little swollen and tender to touch but just sitting and watching tv you'll for get you even had it done. :) relax if you need one.
Posted by: Pamela | June 06, 2012 at 05:27 PM
It's so comforting to read the main blog and all of the comments. I'm going in for my procedure in two weeks and this makes me much less anxious and worried! Thank you everyone for your positive experience stories.
Posted by: Barbara | July 05, 2012 at 10:06 AM
Thank you for all the comments, I have to get a graft on one tooth next week and I am in a total panic. Ive been searching the Internet and usually find bad stories! But reading these puts me a little more at ease. I am more anxious about recovery than the procedure itself. I had a bad wisdom teeth removal experience so that's where all my nerves come from!
Posted by: Sarah | August 03, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Thank you! This is exactly what I was looking for. I'm facing a surgery in a week and really wanted to know what to expect. I learned some time back not to Google anything any more without being precise as to what I want to find, which is no horror stories. Unfortunately, as you stated, people are generally only motivated to post their stories if there's some sort of horror involved.
Posted by: Kate | September 04, 2012 at 09:15 AM
Thanks so much for sharing! I feel much better now about my needed gum graft.
Posted by: Jen | September 20, 2012 at 09:58 AM
I just have my gum grafting done on Wednesday. 4 teeth on lower right... The procedure was pretty acceptable, not very scary. I took the alloderm as my gum tissue was weak to start with, my perio suggested to use it rather than my own as they will give more or less the same result. I took his advise
. Right after the surgery , I felt very painful as the pain medication might not take effect on time. After I left the office and got into my car, pain was subside and I took out the guaze and bleeding was minimal. Didn't take a break and resume work that afternoon. Afraid to eat anything, just drink ensure the whole day. Swelling was getting severe the next day, saw blood stain in the second site on Day 2 afternoon. Since I thought it's just the stain from the rinse, perio said he could have it removed afterward. However，on that very same night, just before going to bed, tasted something writes from the month, run into the bathroom and saw blood all covered the second site, felt something like jello in the back of the teeth (2nd site), it was non stop... Scared to death and email the perio, he was do good and guide me through what could that be and how to handle it. Bleeding stopped in the middle of the night... extremely scarey experience as I was so afraid the new tissue's been gone forever.
The next day, Perio did a detail check up ... Found out some stitches were gone and that leads to heavy bleeding last might. Some more stitches were placed. Also bruising heavily on the right jaw extended to the neck area. It was ugly and bruises were deep purple in color. Perio suggested putting on the healing cream to help faster healing on bruises as he thought it's pretty serious.
Day 4, swelling still, bruises heavily despit the putting of healing cream. No bleeding after extra stitches. Pain was minimal.
Day 5, swelling seemed getting a little better, bruising still heavily, it gets a little darker, could see a bit yellow on the side. I was afraid it will be there for another two weeks at least.
Still under recovery, will keep updated in later days.
After all, g grafting is not a nice experience at all times, but you have to do it you have to do it... Right. I was hoping after the two gum grafting, I can start my ortho treatment next year. Having a beautiful smile in another two years... It's all for a good cause.
Happy healing everyone.
Posted by: Aleemama | September 30, 2012 at 09:08 PM
I had my lower canine and 2 teeth next to that done last thursday. You were absolutley correct when saying that my Perio must be a fly fisherman. He was tying knots like he was tying a fly. Pretty cool overall though. The stinging on the roof of my mouth where the graft came from has posed its challenges but its all good.
I can only eat on one side of my mouth and I have to make sure no food bits get into the big hole on the roof of my mouth. I wasn't given a mouth piece either. It is healing the old fashioned way. Motrin and warm water rinses are the key to sucess for me. Thanks again Brian!
Posted by: Steve | October 01, 2012 at 06:31 PM
This page is a great resource!
I found this page a year ago and read through it. Today was the day I finally had a gum graft on four lower teeth using my own tissue. I was told by multiple people that my own tissue would take to my own gums better than donor tissue. The procedure went well.
I put the gum graft off for two years because I was so nervous. In the end, the procedure was not a big deal. It was over under an hour. I should have had this done as soon as it was recommended to me by my dentist. My dentist eventually told me that if I didn't have the gum graft at some time, I could lose a tooth.
I was given Valium for anxiety beforehand but I never took it and didn't really need it. I listened to my iPod during the procedure but at low enough of a volume so I could hear the periodontist say "lean toward me" or "open wide." I would recommend bringing your favorite music to listen to, if only for something else to think about while you are getting the gum graft done.
The only thing I really felt during the procedure was the Novocaine going in, as I've felt before when I've had cavities filled.
After the gum graft, I was given a plastic mouthpiece that sits against the roof of my mouth, protecting the donor site. I took it easy today and just rested. I iced my mouth 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off with ice packs as they recommended, and I have yet to take the Vicodin that they gave me for afterwards.
I tried to make an educational video after my gum graft, but hilarity ensued instead.
Posted by: AJ | November 01, 2012 at 07:14 PM
I had a graft done on 2 sites 15 hours ago. I have a low pain tolerance. The only pain that I have had is from a slight headache. I took regular ibuprofin and it stopped. My dentist took my blood and separated the platelets and packed them on the site. That probably helped with the speed healing and no pain. I am using a plastic baby spoon with a very long handle to eat plain pudding and that feels very good. The donor site (platate) does not hurt, just feels like how it would after eating a piece of hot pizza. My gum graft site is tender, but does not hurt. I put this surgery off for 6 years as I am a chicken of pain and I wish I had it done sooner. Just go for it and you will be glad you got it done and over with. p.s. I prayed about it and thought relaxing thoughts the whole time.
Posted by: Jess | November 16, 2012 at 06:58 AM
Thought I should chime in as well. Just had my two lower canine teeth grafted with tissue from my palate. I was lucky to have very little notice before the surgery so I didn't have time to worry about it too much, especially because I had a very bad experience with my wisdom teeth. I went in for a consultation a week ago only to realize that my coverage on my parent's dental insurance was about to run out. The office calls me on Tuesday morning saying they can do the procedure Wednesday morning (yesterday) with a different doctor. I said let's do it.
So the procedure itself was uncomfortable, but that's it. No pain. The perio's assistant was not sucking the saliva and blood out of my mouth until she realized I was growing uncomfortable from swallowing so much of it. But after that I was fine. They covered the lower sites and gave me a retainer type thing to wear over my palate. They told me to go fill my prescription for Norco immediately and take it before the pain sets in. I thought I was just gonna tough it out instead. Probably not the best decision because I was definitely in pain about 2 hours after the procedure. I just took 200mg Ibuprofen though and that was enough. Took it twice more the rest of the day.
I bled quite a bit on the bottom, especially while trying to drink water, but the perio called and said it was normal for the first 24 hours. I wasn't really hungry thankfully, because of all the blood I had swallowed, so not eating the first day was fine. Now on day 2 I have not taken any ibuprofen but I'm in a little bit of pain, a little swollen, and my lower jaw is just stiff in general. I have had some protein/fruit/veggie smoothies for nutrition. I could probably eat solids but I'm gonna wait for tomorrow (I could lose a few pounds).
Anyways, I think I should be fine and the whole process is not that bad, and this is coming from someone who was bed ridden two weeks after getting wisdom teeth taken out. My only concern at this point is when will I be able to exercise again and when will I be able to consume alcohol again? Obviously the alcohol's not as important but I'm attending a sporting event on Saturday and I'm not sure if partaking would be detrimental to my healing process.
Cheers to all the responses and to anyone reluctant to get the surgery. Just do it!
Posted by: Shawn | November 29, 2012 at 06:34 PM
I had a free gingival graft done on my 6 bottom, front teeth just over a week ago, almost no pain now just a little on the roof of my mouth where they took the tissue from. I was super terrified of having this procedure done. I was offered ativan to help keep me relaxed and arrived at my appointment half an hour early to allow the pills time to kick in. The worst part of the preocedure was the injections of freezing which really weren't any worse than the ones you get before having fillings done, I didn't feel a thing for the rest of it and the ativan made it so I really didn't care about what was going on. The worst part of my recovery honestly was the constipation caused by my prescribed T3s, I really don't know why I wasn't warned about it and suggest taking preventative measures against this (staying well hydrated, having lots of fiber etc.) The pain on recovery was only really bad the night after surgery. I had a three day weekend to recover which I found to be adequate but I wouldn't suggest trying to go back to work any sooner than that especially if your jobs involves lots of talking and/or physical activity. I hope this helps anyone who is stressed about getting this done, it really wasn't too bad and I was so freaked out about it, just if you're taking T3s look into preventive measures against constipation!!
Posted by: Becky | February 02, 2013 at 05:22 PM
Thank you so much for providing this site. I'm going to have my first three grafts done this March. Was wondering what toothbrush and toothpaste any of you use now to prevent gum recession? I have naturally thin gum tissue - and the Sonicare actually made my recession worse. I'd appreciate any suggestions you all can offer. Thank you.
Posted by: Stephanie | February 19, 2013 at 01:00 AM
I just had my second gum graft done 3 days ago and it went well :) Although, today will be my first day out of bed :( after the first graft I switched to a very soft toothbrush and sensodyne toothpaste. Also switched to a method of just flicking the brush from the top of my tooth down. It has seemed to help. Best of luck, give yourself time to heal.
Posted by: Sara | February 23, 2013 at 04:36 AM
How important is the plastic stent that they make to cover the site where the gum is harvested? It will cost me an extra $600. Anybody else have the procedure without the stent for recovery?
Posted by: Kevin | March 11, 2013 at 07:17 PM
Kevin, by "stent" I assume you mean the plastic thingie that fits in the roof of the mouth to protect the site where tissue was taken. I had one. I didn't know it cost that much. That seems like a lot.
For a while I tried to get along without it, because it was sort of difficult to get on and off. (Eventually I figured out some tricks to do it.) Eating food made the top of my mouth burn. Wasn't pleasant. I suspect there are good reasons for the plastic thingie. Comfort is one of them, from my experience. Proper healing likely is another.
Posted by: Brian Hines | March 11, 2013 at 10:32 PM
Thank you for your post! I'm usually pretty tough about pain, but I get nervous about getting nervous for this sort of thing. I was looking for someone posting about surviving the experience, and this was a very helpful page! Although my periodontist was pretty clear about not doing too much physical activity afterwards, so I'm pretty sure she'd disapprove of me mowing the lawn the same day :) Again, thanks!
Posted by: Avery | March 12, 2013 at 08:30 PM
Can I just say that that video is fantastic (AJ, November 1, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwoPwrTeymg)
I am going for a graft on two lower teeth later this week (my own tissues) - so far I am not too concerned - this site is mostly v reassuring too - but hopefully recovery will not be too bad. I work out a lot and more than a couple of days idle will lead to grumpiness and lethargy! Wish me luck :) I should stop the internet research, I am starting to revisit my old eating disorder issues.
Posted by: Sara | June 16, 2013 at 08:24 PM
I wish I had found this site prior to my surgery. I only had one graft done (one week ago now) but I was still very nervous prior to the surgery. My dentist told me to eat a very big breakfast before I came in for the procedure as I probably would not be able to eat much the rest of the day. That was probably the best piece of advise!
The surgery itself was very easy. In and out of the office in 30 minutes and no pain at all! My dentist provided me with the retainer to protect the roof of my mouth. I kept it in all day and the first night. I eat/drank fruit smoothies and made sure I did not use acidic juices (so no oj, grapefruit etc) and drank ice tea all day using a straw. There was no need for pain killers or Advil. Day two I went back to work, drank fruit smoothies again but really needed something hearty at night. I made mashed potato with lots of butter and sour cream so no chewing was needed. I had no issues. Eating during the week got better and better. Just stick with really soft foods that require little chewing and you will be fine. The only big mistake I made during recovery is to drink wine on day 5. I assume it was the acidity that caused the roof of my mouth to hurt again. I put the retainer back in to protect it. So far so good. Going back for my one week check up tomorrow.
As other people on this site have stated, it is not fun but I have had relatively little pain from the procedure and I figured out what I could eat and drink to not feel so hungry. The roof of my mouth is still sensitive but in the end this procedure and recovery was MUCH easier than expected!!!
Posted by: Katie | July 21, 2013 at 09:32 PM
Excellent blog! Has anyone tried the new pinhole surgical technique for fixing gum recession? Basically, they pull the gums over the recessed area and insert collogen to support it. One day recovery and upto 14 teeth can be done in a single setting.
Posted by: Reef | August 16, 2013 at 03:32 PM
I am also interested in this pinhole surgical technique. anybody has experience on that?
Posted by: ryan | September 24, 2013 at 07:23 AM
I'm so glad you posted this. I'm about to go in for a gum graft next week and I wasn't sure if I should do anesthesia or just local. I'm thinking with the laughing gas and some headphones I'll do just fine.
Thanks for the post.
Posted by: Foxesinthegraveyard.blogspot.com | September 27, 2013 at 09:25 AM
I am going in tomorrow morning for a gum bone graft. The dentists are not completely sure that there is not a crack (fracture) in the tooth, but say that once they get in to flip the gum and do the bone graft (because it is deteriorating), if at that time they see a fracture, we will have to discuss my options at that time. So, for now, going in for gum flip/bone graft. Nervous, but this site and all the comments have put my mind at ease. It will all be over soon enough. Thanks!
Posted by: Dawn Cannella | November 20, 2013 at 06:54 PM
I got mine 6 days ago. I woke up in pain for 4 days and finally yesterday, I was able to eat a pancake (chocolate chip and it was DELICIOUS). Of course, I was worried bout the procedure, like everyone else here. The thing i am most worried about is the actual graft not attaching to my gum. I know you aren't supposed to pull your lip down or anything but I took a peak and lightly pulled my lip and noticed that the graft moved. It seemed like it was only being held on by the stitches. Has this happened to anyone? Has anyone had a graft that DIDNT attach?
Posted by: Casey | December 10, 2013 at 12:09 PM
I had a gum graft 5 days ago. My doctor took tissue from the side of the roof of my mouth and the tissue was grafting onto my right canine (eye tooth). The procedure went fine. I had laughing gas and several shots to numb my mouth before surgery. During surgery, I could tell that it was quite the procedure--especially as a doctor was stitching up both areas. The doctor and his dental assistant gave some simple directions for the next few days. When I left the office, I was still a little loopy, but my husband drove me home. On the way home, we stopped by the pharmacy to get my pain medication and an antibiotic that the doctor had prescribed. The drive home was about 45 minutes and I did start to experience pain around 20 minutes from home. I had taken some Advil directly after the procedure to tie me over until getting home. Anyways, when I got home I took the pain medication right away with some chocolate pudding so that I would not get an upset stomach. I could not fall asleep, so I rested most of the rest of the day--watching movies, reading, etc. It hurt to talk and smile. I did not experience a headache or swelling until Day 2. I slept that night with my head elevated on 3 pillows as the doctor's directions that told me to. When I woke up on Day 2, I did have a fair amount of swelling (but no bruising as some other people have mentioned). I continued to take 2 pain pills every 4-6 hours throughout days Day 2 and 3. Again, just continued to lay low, eating and drinking soft foods and drink. I did make sure that I had stocked my kitchen with some soft comfort foods (mac and cheese, yogurt, soup, oatmeal, fruit cups--peaches and pears, applesauce packets, pudding, etc.) Make sure that you do not eat ANY hot foods for awhile--it can cause palate bleeding....so all of my food has been lukewarm or cold since surgery. Make sure to drink a lot of fluids--I have stuck to iced coffees and water. On Day 4, I did try to cut back on pain meds since I was running out of pills, but started to have soreness at both sites in my mouth. I ended up refilling my prescription and have continued to take pain medication every 4-6 hours. I plan to finish the rest of the medication and if needed, just stick to Advil after that. I have been brushing the left side of my mouth (that side that had no surgery) and just rinsing my mouth with Listerine. My doctor did not prescribe any special mouthwash, he just recommended Listerine Natural mouthwash (be sure not to use whitening products during this time).
As far as what my mouth looks like, I can't see much where the tissue was taken...it just looks like a deep red color there. Where the tissue was grafted to my tooth, it has started to turn pink (which I THINK is a good thing) in some of the areas, but some of the tissue is now white. I believe that this white tissue will eventually fall/peel/come off. It seems kind of soft almost like it is dead tissue...
I go back to the doctor in 3 more days to have a check up...hoping everything looks good.
Posted by: Cara | July 20, 2014 at 01:24 PM
I had a gingival graft done two days ago. The graft was taken from the roof of my mouth and placed on my lower front teeth. I had had an extraction a month ago and a bone graft done. The gum area didn't heal as nicely as my doctor had hoped so he did this gingival graft. The procedure wasn't too bad. I had nitrous oxide along with the normal numbing shots. I needed more shots during the stitching process. There was a little pain but my doctor took care of it as soon as there was a need. I didn't have anything put on the palate incision. It was stitched. It started bleeding while I was driving myself home. I had to put a gauze on it and some pressure. The bleeding stopped when I got home. I had two other times when the same place bled. It is the second day after my procedure and I am pretty much back to doing normal things. I am still a little swollen and my palate is tender but not so tender that I can't eat. I haven't seen the grafted area as the doctor said not to pull out my lip or even look at the area for a few more days. I am using a prescription mouth rinse twice a day. I am feeling some tightness and soreness where the graft was stitched onto my lower front teeth. I have been taking ibuprophen and half the dose of hydrocodone/apap. I will try to just use the ibuprophen tomorrow. My doctor called me in the evening after my procedure. Everything went as he had explained. I think that it helps to listen to your doctor. Hopefully you have chosen one who has gained respect in your community. It does help to know exactly what is going to happen during the procedure. The doctor is in charge of making sure that you don't feel pain. I will be happy when can eat normally. Ice-cream is great but a some chips and salsa would be a nice change!! I am glad that I read many posts before having this procedure. I would agree that it isn't that bad. I am amazed at how good I feel today. I did some gardening and canning today. I'll see the doctor in two weeks. Good luck and don't worry about it...
Posted by: Marlene Bennett | July 27, 2014 at 12:36 AM
I explained to my periodontist that I am extremely nervous about the procedure and asked to be sedated - he told me it will take longer than the actual procedure. I made it clear I am extremely nervous. Scheduled for a soft tissue graft using tissue from the palate as well as a frenectomy. Anybody with intense anxiety make it through ok with nothing other than the novocaine?
Posted by: Michelle | August 24, 2014 at 07:20 AM
Im nearly 70. Have already had 10 tooth implants and numerous bone implants but Im due to have my first gum implant on two teeth followed later by a massive amount of bone implant and only 9 months later, presuming all goes well, the teeth implants.
My question is has anyone here experienced gum implants on an area where there are no teeth (a bridge) followed later by bone implants and if so how was the pain factor? Being self employed its important for me to get back to work asap and truly Im terrified of the pain!
Posted by: Jennifer Zentner | September 20, 2014 at 07:34 AM
Hi, I'm only 13 and have to get this surgery on October 22 and I've been extremely anxious and weepy about since I found out I had to get it. To be completely honest I'm very very anxious about the needles, they have always made me extremely nervous. Can u tell me how bad it was? I doubt that you will even see this but, I would love to have some reasurence.
Posted by: Anominous | October 03, 2014 at 11:01 PM
Anominous, if you mean the needles used for the novacaine or pain killer injection, for me they weren't very painful. The area of the injection is numbed, so I just felt pressure mainly, not really pain. Then the pain killer kicks in, and no pain.
All in all, I thought the gum graft procedure was easier than some other dental work I've had, like having bridges put in. The recovery period isn't a lot of fun, given the need for me to keep the gum graft site in the roof of my mouth protected.
Try not to worry too much. I suspect you'll find that your worries about the procedure are worse than the actual procedure will be. Sure, sometimes what we fear turns out to be worse than expected, but I've found that usually my fears are overblown.
Posted by: Brian Hines | October 04, 2014 at 12:09 AM
I've had gum graft surgery twice. The day of the procedure went fine each time. I had "conscious sedation" - I didn't remember any of it, and the anesthetic they put in lasted many hours.
BUT I had very different recovery experiences. The first time the pain peaked at 3 days, as they predicted. It was better the 4th day, and I was back to work the 5th. My only complaints were the sutures poking my cheek and fatigue that lasted a couple of weeks.
The second time, the periodontist tried a much bigger graft, without discussing it with me ahead of time. I had 3 episodes of bleeding at home that day. Then both the graft and donor sites became infected. The pain was as bad as any I have ever had and lasted for about 2 weeks. I had to have an abscess drained after 13 days. I had two courses of antibiotics and am still sore 5+ weeks later. Because my experience was so unusual, the staff at the periodontist's office didn't seem prepared to deal with it. I will not be returning there.
My advice is to make sure you know ahead of time exactly what the periodontist is planning to do, and call early and be assertive if your recovery is not going as anticipated.
Posted by: spksmom | December 09, 2014 at 11:24 AM
Thanks for your story! I was very scared when I was told I needed 2 grafts, one top toot and 3 bottom teeth. My periodontist was great and explained every little detail, and then his assistant did again. The first procedure used my own gum tissue. Good thing I read a little before hand, and I had my ipod and headphones. I was a little freaked out when I tasted the blood after he cut the roof of my mouth. The recovery was more inconvenience than pain. I never needed the painkillers, ibuprofen and aleve were fine. The only reason I didn't go to work the next day is because I woke up with a lot of swelling and bruising. I was still swollen the 3rd day but I went to work and was fine. I ate a lot of soft foods and chewed on the other side. When I went for my follow up, some stitches didn't dissolve so they had to be taken out - not the most comfortable process. I just had the 2nd procedure 3 days ago, along 3 bottom teeth with alloderm. So far recovery is the same, if not a little easier since I don't have the stitches on the roof of my mouth. There's a little swelling but no bruising (not yet anyway). This time he used some packing substance along my gumline. So far it's still there but he said not to worry if it comes off. I am not good with pain, although after having 2 kids I can tolerate a little more!The best advice I can give is make sure you have a periodontist you can trust, and relax.
Posted by: Melissa | January 18, 2015 at 07:34 PM
Do NOT procrastinate!!! Get this done!!!
I have been told for the last few years that I'd eventually need gum grafts on my lower R and L jaws. I have had both done in the last month and I will say that the worst part of this was learning that the bone loss under the existing gum was worse than we expected...primarily because I waited so long to have this done. Don't delay.
Now for the procedure. First procedure was tough because I failed to take the steriod medication the day before which made the swelling and bleeding worse during the surgery. First surgery I had nitrous oxide only and panicked during the donor portion (extracting the tissue from the top of my mouth). I was too aware of the goings on and it was something of a "sawing" that I didn't enjoy.
Second time around I requested a valium (or two!) before the surgery and this made quite a difference. The pain isn't bad. Both time I have had hydrocodone which I supplemented with Tylenol. Sure the soft foods/soups are a bit of an effort but trust me.... keep with the room temperature liquid, soft foods without fail. You don't want to disrupt the sutures!
In summary, get it done early, don't be too conservative on relaxation drugs (iv drugs or heavy duty drugs are NOT necessary), and follow the post-op directions to a "T". I must say that a month after my first gum surgery, the tooth/gum line looks beautiful and now I know my roots are well protected and healthy. Procrastination is your WORST enemy. Be courageous friends...it's all over quickly!
Posted by: Heather Bacon | April 10, 2015 at 03:13 PM
Just read this post 24 hours after I had the procedure done on my bottom 4 front teeth. Everything went smoothly and I only had novocain--lots of it. When I sat down in the chair, I asked if I could use by ear buds to listen to podcasts on my phone. This worked really well as a distraction. My eyes were covered to protect them from the bright light used so I had the phone in my lap with my hand on the side volume button so that I could lower the volume if instructions were given to me. If you're the nervous type, I strongly recommend this. I was listening to the Moth Story Hour [a great podcast from NPR] and at one point, I had to restrain myself from laughing. Never had that happen in a dentist's chair before. Only regret was that the podcast was only an hour long and I couldn't play another podcast because I couldn't see so had to sit there for the remaining 30 minutes of the procedure without a pleasant distraction. I should have put the settings so that it would have automatically played the next selection.
The only thing they did not prepare me for was the facial bruising. It started after 24 hours. I woke up the next morning and commented that I looked like I had been in a fight and my husband's response was "You sure do and you lost!" So my entire chin is swollen and very discolored. Thank God I don't have any major social events for the next couple of weeks. And judging from other comments, at least I don't have bruising near my eyes.
Baked potatoes mashed up with a little salt and pepper and cold baked fish mashed up with avocado really isn't bad. And the chocolate pie scooped off the crust makes a good dessert. Those and scrambled egg will work nicely for the next few days.
Posted by: Bridget | July 18, 2015 at 10:36 PM
Thanks for this!! Getting surgery in 3 weeks on the whole front, bottom part of my mouth. 5-6 teeth?
Phew. This was much needed.
Posted by: Lucy | July 25, 2015 at 04:05 AM
I do appreciate this blog, I have to get gum grafting done and was hoping someone could help, I suffer from discoid lupus uv rays will cause lesions, I am wondering about the dental overhead lighting does it emit uv rays, this could be a setback for me. What happens if if don't fix my receding gums. Thank you in advance any advice is appreciated.
Posted by: Karen | July 27, 2015 at 07:59 AM