What is Soft Tissue Grafting? Your Questions Answered!

oral surgeon's office

What is soft tissue grafting? This is a process used to stop gums receding or to improve the appearance of your gums. Soft tissue grafting can help cover roots or replace missing gum tissue that has developed due to gum recession.

So if you’re told you need gum surgery, keep in mind the reality isn’t as bad as it sounds. Soft tissue grafting is a common oral surgery procedure that typically requires an oral surgeon but is not more invasive than many common dental treatments.

What is Gum Recession?

Gum recession happens when the tissue surrounding the teeth pulls away from the tooth. It’s a common result of gum disease and smoking. Overtime, gum recession can damage the supporting bone of the tooth. Gum recession is quite common — it affects 4% to 12% of adults. By the time you notice it, gum recession can be quite severe.

Soft Tissue Graft: What to Expect

There are three common types of soft tissue grafting.

In a free gingival graft, a strip of tissue is removed from the roof of the mouth and stitched to your gum line. This is done to thicken the tissue of the gum line and is very common.

A connective tissue graft is done for larger areas or to protect an exposed root. We remove subepithelial connective tissue from a small flap in the mouth and suture it to the grafting site.

Pedicle grafts take tissue from the gum around or surrounding the tooth that needs repaired. The flap, also known as a pedicle, is partially cut away, leaving one edge attached. We then pull the gum over or down around the exposed root. This procedure is only possible if you have enough existing gum to pull over the tooth without exposing any other part of the tooth.

Recovering from a Soft Tissue Graft

Following the procedure, you’ll be able to go home. We recommend someone drive you, since you still may be groggy from the effects of the sedation dentistry we use to ensure your comfort.

We’ll give you special instructions about after care. It’s important that you follow them. This will include diet, physical activity, and medications. Avoid brushing or flossing the affected gum line until everything has healed. We’ll also give you a special antibiotic mouthwash to rinse with to clean the affected gums.

Go easy on food for the first week following a soft tissue graft. Stick to mostly soft food — eggs, pasta, Jell-O, yogurt, cottage cheese, well-cooked vegetables, and ice cream.

The amount of pain you’ll feel can vary depending on the type of soft tissue grafting performed. You’ll likely experience some degree of discomfort if tissue was removed from your palate. Go easy and take the pain medication we prescribe you. Over-the-counter pain medication may be enough to help manage any discomfort.