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How Connective Tissue Grafts Heal

Periodontists frequently perform connective tissue grafts for patients with gum recession. A number of factors can cause recession, including bruxism (clenching and grinding of the teeth) and periodontal disease. Continue reading to learn what the connective tissue graft procedure entails and what the healing process involves.

Before Connective Tissue Graft
One Week After
Three Weeks After

What is a connective tissue graft?

The purpose of the connective tissue graft is to address receding gums, prevent bone loss, and improve the aesthetic of the gum line. Recession causes periodontal “pockets” (gaps between the teeth and gums), where destructive bacteria thrives. Left untreated, this bacterial infection breaks down the tissue and bone-supporting structures in the teeth, eventually causing tooth loss. Individuals with recession usually experience sensitivity to hot and cold substances and mobile teeth, and they are at an increased risk of tooth and bone loss.

The connective tissue graft procedure involves taking tissue from a healthy area in the mouth and placing it onto the area where recession exists. The healthy tissue is then sutured onto the recessed area. This tissue integrates into the problem area, eliminating the recession and restoring robust tissue to support the teeth.

Gum graft healing process

Once the procedure concludes, it is important to avoid brushing and flossing the surgery site or manipulating it with your tongue. Leave the healing site alone. You may experience some discomfort in the area from which the healthy tissue was removed. Some people compare the sensation to a pizza burn. This feeling is typical, and over-the-counter medication will help alleviate the pain. Click here to learn more about the steps to take before and after the surgery itself.

After about three to four weeks, the healing will have progressed significantly. The area may appear puffy and discolored, and some bleeding may still occur. This too is normal. Continue to resist the temptation to disturb the site or prod the area with your tongue.

After about four to five weeks, the graft site should be almost completely healed. The grafted tissue will have completely integrated onto the formerly-recessed area, and the gum tissue will have returned to a healthy level that protects the tooth. Once healed, you should begin a consistent oral hygiene program to ensure that not only the surgery site, but also the entire mouth, remains healthy. View the videos below to learn more about proper brushing and flossing techniques.

Proper Brushing Technique

Proper Flossing Technique

Have questions? Give us a call at (919) 518-8222.