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Last Reviewed 05 June 2023

Medically reviewed by Dr.Anna Beattie, Bachelor Dent. Sc. (Trinity College Dublin) 2003, PG Diploma in Conscious Sedation (Newcastle University), Clinical Doctorate in Oral Surgery, Fellow of the Dental Faculty of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Oral Surgeon

gum surgery aftercare
Oral Surgery Aftercare Explained by Dr. Anna Beattie - Gum Surgery
gum surgery aftercare
Oral Surgery Aftercare Explained by Dr. Anna Beattie - Gum Surgery

Gum grafting can reverse the impact of gum recession, while also halting it from developing further. If we've recently performed this operation, there are some vital steps you need to take to ensure the best results. This gum graft surgery aftercare guide will help you recover quickly and prevent complications.

Gingival (Gum) Surgery Post Op Instructions

Gum graft surgery can reduce the effects of receding gums and helps treat gingivitis by allowing more effective cleaning of the area, making it an instrumental procedure for individuals with severe gum damage. If you've just undergone gum surgery at 3Dental, these instructions will help you with any aftercare.

Following them ensures a speedy recovery and the effective treatment of gum recession.

After The Gum Surgery

Your mouth will be numb after the surgery, and you should avoid eating anything until the anaesthetic wears off.

Once you regain feeling in your mouth, you can have cold drinks, but avoid anything hot for at least 24 hours after the surgery, as it can cause bleeding.

Using Medication

It's natural to feel discomfort during your recovery period; your dentist will advise on the best medications. Ibuprofen and paracetamol will reduce the swelling and provide relief from discomfort, but if the pain is severe, co-codamol is a good option.

Your dentist might also prescribe an antibiotic to prevent infection. If you're taking pain relief medicines, follow the instructions clearly to avoid overdose and seek support if the pain becomes unbearable.

Even if you feel fine, take any antibiotics for the full course.

Eating And Drinking

Avoid consuming hot food or drinks for at least 24 hours after the surgery, and stick to cold drinks. Water is best, and consuming yoghurt or ice cream will result in less discomfort.

As swelling decreases, you can introduce more foods into your diet, but avoid hard or sticky foods.

Suitable meal options include: 

  • Cooked vegetables
  • Scrambled egg
  • Pasta (with non-acidic sauces)
  • Ice cream
  • Porridge
  • Mashed potato
  • Soups
  • Meal replacement shakes or any other liquid diet

It's also essential to avoid drinking alcohol, smoking or vaping until you have your review. 

Oral Care

Gum graft surgery is a major oral procedure; you'll need to protect your mouth to ensure a speedy healing process. However, you should still maintain oral hygiene after the procedure by:

  • Gently brushing your teeth twice a day - avoiding the graft site.
  • Using mouthwash - let it swirl in your mouth and gently expel it. DON'T spit the mouthwash, as this can aggravate the surgical area.
  • Avoid touching the graft with your tongue or lifting your lips to look at it. Leave the site alone, and it will heal faster.

Managing Bleeding

Bleeding is a natural side-effect of gum graft surgery, but it should begin to subside after 48 hours. However, if you consume hot food and drinks or perform strenuous activities, it could make the situation worse.

Your dentist might advise applying pressure with gauze to the area for up to 30 minutes and eating on the other side of your mouth to prevent any irritation. Gum tissue is often taken from the palate and transferred to the graft site, the area on the palate can bleed more than the area where the gum is transferred to. Using your thumb to apply pressure to some rolled up gauze on the palate works well to stop bleeding here.

If the bleeding persists, visit your dentist immediately for advice. Excessive bleeding could indicate something more serious, and your surgeon will want to assess the situation.

Homecare Tips for Discomfort

Oral surgery can initially cause some discomfort, but medications should relieve your symptoms. There are also things you can do at home to protect your gums and reduce swelling, including:

  • Use ice packs on the side of your face.
  • Make sure you avoid strenuous activities that might cause pain.
  • Not flossing or brushing the surgical site.
  • Avoid trying to look at the site by lifting your lips or touching it for at least two weeks, as it can affect your recovery and cause bleeding.
  • Take care of your other teeth, including brushing them regularly.

The Gum Graft Recovery Timeline

As with any surgical procedure, you will experience some side effects and a recovery period. Understanding how long you will recover is crucial to the healing process. Here's what you can expect:

  • Day One: After your surgery, you'll experience discomfort, bleeding, and swelling. Your surgeon will provide painkillers and advise an antibacterial mouthwash.
  • Week One: As the week progresses, the bleeding should stop, and you might notice some bruising. You'll be able to eat soft foods, including eggs, pasta and vegetables (fully cooked).
  • Week Two: Any bruising and swelling around the surgical site should fade, and you can introduce harder foods into your diet.

Following This Gum Grafting Aftercare Guide Will Ensure You Heal Properly

Surgery can protect your gum line and enhance oral health, whether you're dealing with gum recession or severely damaged gum tissue. Following these post-op instructions can prevent eventual tooth loss and get you back on track with your dental routine.

Our dedicated team of dentists are available if you have any questions or would like some general advice.