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Gum implant surgery is a procedure that can be used to modify the lines of the gums, either by removing some of the gums or by grafting tissue over the existing gum line. The process can be carried out purely for cosmetic reasons or as a treatment for severe gum disease. A periodontist performs the surgery, utilizing various techniques to restore the gums to a healthy state. Recovery time varies from person to person but generally takes between five and 10 days.
One of the more common forms of gum implant surgery is the rebuilding of the gums, or gingival, around the base of the teeth. This area is very resilient but can wear down over time. Gums that have started to recede can put a patient at risk for increased damage from periodontal disease, or physical damage to the tooth root underneath. In cases where there is no way to repair the damage non-surgically, gum implant surgery could become the only option to restore periodontal health.
The gum line is rebuilt by taking long strips of tissue from the roof of the mouth and then grafting it on to the existing gums. Alternately, tissue can be taken from the gums themselves if there is enough healthy material. The grafting process usually ends with sutures to secure the new gingival in place.
The opposite procedure, called crown lengthening, can be used to remove excess gums. This can be the result of an infection but is more often done to correct the appearance of a gummy smile in which too much of the gum line is visible. A crown lengthening can be performed with a scalpel or even a laser to reduce the amount of visible damage and promote healing.
Gum implant surgery also can describe peripheral procedures that are not technically grafting or implants. These can include a variety of ways in which to extract healthy tissue from the mouth so it can be used later in actual gum implant surgery. Procedures that open the gums to ensure they are clean below the gingival line also might be considered gum implant surgery. These procedures can help to reduce the risk of infection once the actual implant surgery is complete.
Recovery times after gum implant surgery can last anywhere from a few days to nearly two weeks. During the healing process, swelling and some bleeding could occur. A special diet might be necessary to prevent further damage until the sutures have fully healed.