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November 18, 2008


I would like to hear more from people who had the cadaver tissue used for their grafts. Successful?

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.


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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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?

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..

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(

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?

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!

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!

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.

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.

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?

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.

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!!

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.

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.

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!

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.

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!

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?

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!

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!

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!

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