Gum graft surgery is a common procedure for repairing receding gums. It’s often necessary to prevent the roots of one’s teeth from over-exposure, which can make eating and drinking difficult and accelerate tooth decay.
Although it’s an effective and usually trouble-free operation, gum graft surgery requires a bit more immediate post-op maintenance in the days that follow. Gums are extraordinarily sensitive to begin with, and subjecting them to a grafting procedure leaves the patient vulnerable to a few days of strong discomfort and pain.
Recovery from gum graft surgery may take a little longer, but there are a few tips and tricks that can help make it more tolerable and possibly shorten the duration.
Don’t rush yourself. To speed up healing, start by going slow. Full recovery from gum graft surgery takes a few weeks. Your body will have to work its way back to full strength in gradual and deliberate steps. Take time off from your exercise routine and other heavy physical activity for at least 5 days after surgery and even more if you need it.
Use ice packs for swelling. You’ll experience minor swelling or inflammation near the gums on the first day after graft surgery. Use an ice pack to keep the pain and discomfort under control.
Manage the pain with over-the-counter meds. Non-prescription painkillers should be powerful enough to mitigate most of the pain that results from gum graft surgery. Moderate use of acetaminophen, naproxen, ibuprofen, or aspirin should help take the edge off the pain.
Start with an all-liquid diet. In the first few days after the procedure, chewing solid food will be uncomfortable at best and painful at worst. Your newly grafted gums will be extremely sensitive and will need some time to regain strength. Avoid putting stress on them by sticking to an entirely liquid diet for a couple of days. Stock up on soups, especially ones like broth, bisque, or consommé, that won’t require any heavy chewing or grinding. This is also a good time to get into homemade smoothies like you’ve always wanted to do — just make sure you blend them thoroughly with no small bits that can get stuck in your gums. When the first two days have passed, work your way up slowly to solid foods, starting with yogurt.
Rinse with water and sea salt. Saltwater is a natural disinfectant. Rinsing with saltwater can help ease gum inflammation and keep your mouth clean. For the first 24 hours after surgery, you won’t want to rinse your mouth with anything. When that first day is over, rinse your mouth after each meal with a solution of a teaspoon of sea salt dissolved in 8 ounces glass of water. Swish the saltwater around for a few seconds, then spit it out.
Get plenty of Vitamins A and C. These vitamins are notably excellent in controlling post-op inflammation and accelerating the healing process. Vitamin A also helps you avoid dehydration and preserves your mucous membrane while you recover. Sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots, cantaloupe, and super-fashionable kale are rich with Vitamin A; citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, bell peppers, and papaya have plenty of Vitamin C.
Have a bag of tea. One curious but reportedly effective way to relieve sore gums after graft surgery involves tea bags. Black tea contains tannic acid, which stimulates coagulation and has some minor anesthetic properties. To relieve irritated gums, steep a black tea bag, remove it from the cup, put it in a freezer or refrigerator until it’s cool, then place it directly on your gums. Drinking the tea is optional (though it shouldn’t be too hot).