Survival After Gum Graft Surgery

The Importance of Preparation

Should you prep, Absolutely!

Spend the time before the procedure being as active as you can, eating right, and getting good sleep. I also requested a dental stent (it kind of looks like a mouthguard, but is made out of clear acrylic and fits over your existing teeth and a little over the pink gum tissue). The dental stent will help you to not aggravate the roof of your mouth where they take to graft from.

The Day Before:

This is where meal prepping will come in handy. You don’t want to be fixing meals when you’re not feeling 100%. Go to the grocery store and get (soft) foods for seven days.

My Purchases include:

Another great choice is to go to your local smoothie place! We have Smoothie King and Jamba Juice around where we live so I made a habit of going there every other day for the first week. Just remember to use a spoon and not sip out of a straw for a week, as the sucking motion can dislodge the blood clot on the inside of your mouth and lead to a painful condition called “dry socket.” 

The Day Of:

Since my procedure was on a Saturday at 10:00 a.m., I chose to eat a big breakfast at 8:00 a.m.! The first advice I will give you is to load up on a big meal two hours before the surgery. This alone helped me get through the first 24 hours with little tummy grumblings. Also, if you can only get one day of time off of work, I would suggest getting this procedure done on Friday morning instead of Saturday. This is because I was still in recovery mode that Monday. One extra day would have been very helpful.

The Procedure

Dental Stent

Overall the procedure wasn’t that painful. If you hate needles then I suppose this procedure isn’t for the faint of heart. But after the third needle poke, I felt nothing. It was a painless procedure, but I did have a little gagging trouble a couple of times, but it quickly went away once the dental assistant provided the suction tube to my mouth. On a scale of 1 to 10 on the surgery pain index, I consider this surgery to be a 2 (during the surgery). The Periodontist placed the dental stent in my mouth before I left the surgery room.

The Medicine

My Periodontist prescribed several medications:

  1. Azithromycin – This was to help prevent any infection
  2. Periogard (Chlorhexidine Gluconate Oral Rinse) – This was to also prevent infection and promote healing for the gum tissue.
  3. Ibuprofen – For the pain
  4. Dexamethasone – It relieves inflammation (swelling, heat, redness, and pain) 

What did I end up taking?

The only medications I ended up taking were the Azithromycin and the Periogard. Since I rarely take medications, the prescription ibuprofen would have looped me out for 8 hours straight! So I went to the grocery store and picked up Tylenol (the smallest dose possible) instead of taking the ibuprofen.

Immediately after the procedure

After the procedure was over, I was waiting for my ride to pick me up (since I didn’t know what condition I would be in). I had trouble swallowing because my mouth was producing too much saliva and there was still blood mixed with it so I wanted to spit it out. Don’t worry, this is normal. I asked the Periodontist what I should do and he said to swallow it and refrain from any forceful spitting for three days. The feeling went away in a day, but the entire first day all I wanted to do was spit!

I spent the rest of the day in bed and watching movies. I took Tylenol by 8 p.m. that night and by 9 p.m. swished the Periogard in my mouth the best I could with the dental stent in place. I was ready for bed by 10 p.m.

24 Hours after the procedure

Since it was Sunday and I was feeling like I needed to get out of the house, I managed to make it to Church. Warning: Smiling big or laughing is painful, so try not to hang around anyone who makes you laugh too hard!

After church, there were more watching shows and playing video games with the kids. I watched another movie after our family dinner.

Overall, I was more tired than usual today. Also noticed that the back of my tongue that touches my dental stent felt sore. This is because when I sleep my tongue is resting on the back of the dental stent that is sharp, and it is hurting in that spot. That night I decided to clean my dental stent because there was a terrible taste in my mouth, and the roof of my mouth was very tender. I would rather wear the dental stent and have the back of my tongue feel sore than accidentally have my tongue press against the top of my mouth where the gum graft was taken! Took Tylenol again at 8 pm and went to bed by 9:30 pm because the kids have school tomorrow and I was still very sleepy.

48 Hours after the procedure

I woke up around 6:00am and walked the kids to school (about one mile total). When I returned, I was craving vegetables for some reason. Just to let you know, I can’t even count on one hand the times my body has told me to eat my veggies. Most of the time I have to force it, but today my body was really telling me to eat vegetables! So I drank 8oz. of the HEB – Drink Your Greens (Fresh Cold Pressed Juice) and my body was finally satisfied. I also drank a Siggi’s – Drinkable Yogurt and proceeded to get ready for work. Before I left for work i rinsed with Periogard and cleaned my dental stent in As I left the house, I took a few Noka – Superfood Smoothie Pouches with me for lunch in case I can’t find a smoothie place.

While at lunch today I read that Ice tea can really help the healing of gum graft. So I tried to make my regular Luzianne Decaf iced tea with no sugar. However it did not help that much. So I went to the grocery store and purchased the regular caffeinated Luzianne Iced Tea to see if there was any merit to people claiming iced tea helps (I used 4 tea bags for 1 pitcher of iced tea). Well, it really helped! Not just a little bit, but alot. Every time I drank the caffinated tea I had no pain for at least 15 minutes or so.

Tea Warning! This stuff will really make you wired if you are not used to caffeine! I haven’t had more than a single 8oz glass of iced tea in two years, and after 6 glasses (6oz. of iced tea I was wired (36 oz. total)! It’s 10:00pm now, and not a bit tired as of yet. So I went on Healthline and here is the suggested amount of caffeinated tea.

Though moderate intake is healthy for most people, drinking too much could lead to negative side effects, such as anxiety, headaches, digestive issues, and disrupted sleep patterns. Most people can drink 3–4 cups (710–950 ml or 32oz.) of caffeinated tea daily without adverse effects, but some may experience side effects at lower doses.

Please don’t make this mistake! Tomorrow I will will not drink any caffeinated tea and wait until the next day to drink a smaller portion. So far the only side affect I have is a disrupted sleep pattern, but I do feel super focused at the moment!

Did not take any Tylenol tonight because I didn’t know how caffeine and Tylenol would affect each other until I looked up this article. Good thing I didn’t take it! Around 10:00 p.m. I took out the dental stent and swished the Periogard rinse for 30 seconds. For the first time I saw no blood on the top of the dental stent when I was cleaning it.

Caffeine eventually subsided, I finally went to sleep at 12:10 a.m. in the morning!

72 Hours after the procedure

Today was rough! I woke up promptly at 5:00 a.m. since the last time in, LIKE NEVER! Grabbed my Almond Milk + Garden of Life (Meal Replacement) and I was off! Only I wasn’t! I started losing steam by 11:00 a.m. and kept receiving work calls. I worked from home today because I was very sore and didn’t feel like talking to anyone, yet somehow I felt like everyone called me today. Funny how that happens, it’s like an unspoken law of the universe. On the food front, I think I have officially perfected instant mac and cheese. Nothing really jumped out to me today and I felt a little nausea but the mac & cheese felt safe. I started with Bob Evans Mac & Cheese for lunch. By dinner time I was feeling very brave and tried Velveeta Shells and Cheese Cup with baked chicken. My secret to the Mac & Cheese was to microwave the cups for two minutes, then take it out of the microwave and grate some Tilamook cheese on top. Microwave the cup again for one minute (for a total of three minutes in the microwave) then stir into the macaroni. I still added half the Velveeta cheese sauce just to get the full effect. Quick perfection!

Do you want to know if I had tea today? I told you I shouldn’t, I even think I promised you I wouldn’t… but I had some tea today! Just not enough to do any damage. All I did was swish it in my mouth like a mouthwash and it felt great, then I (softly) spit it out. There is just something in tea that really eases the pain for a couple of minutes. Even though the pain subsiding with tea is extremely short lived, I’ll take it!

I took the Dental Stent out today and just let my mouth heal. I put it back in when I ate my lunch and dinner, but that is the only time I work it today. The good news is the pain in your mouth is bearable. What gets you more than anything is the swelling and the headaches.

So you want to hear how my Gum Graft is healing, you want to hear I am doing a lot better today? That is simply not the case. My face has swollen to the point that I am feeling pressure on my eyeballs! You know the Dexamethasone the Periodontist prescribed but I didn’t take, YEAH, that’s why they prescribed it! The back of my mouth is very tender and my lips are very ticklish (when putting on lip balm). There is good news in all of this and I am going to tell you what it is! The Periodontist told me that day 3 would be the height of swelling. This means that after tomorrow I am on the home stretch. I still rate this procedure at 2 (during surgery), but without the Tylenol last night this quickly became a solid 5, post op.

Took the Periogard regiment and headed off to bed, tonight the theme is SLEEP! I even put my kids to bed on time which doesn’t happen that often! The Periogard feels great in your mouth just like the tea does and lasts a good 15 minutes (unlike teas 3 minute of relief).

I have a full stomach, I am beyond tired, and I only have one more day until my swelling subsides! Things are looking up!!!

Day 4

The swelling was beyond bad today. Ever been hit in the head with a hammer? Hopefully not, but this is what I imagine it feels like. Today was a very non-eventful day. I just felt terrible for most of the day and my mouth and head hurt non-stop. To top this off, it would have been my Father’s birthday if he was still alive, sure missing that old man right now!

I drank my usual Almond Milk + Garden of Life (Meal Replacement) for breakfast, but something happened pretty bad around 11:00 a.m. today. A feeling like heartburn was so bad that I had to lay down in bed. After five minutes or so I got up and drank some water in the kitchen, but it was still hurting, so I ate an early lunch (painfully). Bob Evans Mac & Cheese to the rescue! After lunch I had no more heartburn so I am not sure what that was about, but I can guess that my diet has been less than stellar and I went long periods between eating solid foods. Who knows, all I can say is Hallelujah it’s gone!

My mouth is so swollen that it is hard to wear my dental stent. I went to bed early tonight at 9:30 p.m. after taking Tylenol and relaxing as much as possible.

Day 5

Today I woke up feeling better, just that headache was still around. I decided to take the day off of work in case today was a continuation of yesterday.

For breakfast I had Chobani – Complete, Tapioca Pudding, and HEB – Drink Your Greens (Fresh Cold Pressed Juice).

I can actually say that it was a relaxing day! I even was able to take a nap from 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. this afternoon. Any day I can get a nap is amazing! For all the cosmos I wonder as kids why we hated taking naps, now I can’t get enough of them. I still would like to think I wouldn’t need as many naps today if I took more of them when I was a kid .. but that is far fetched, right? Just letting you know that is what runs through my mind at times. Any-who, I felt like major progress was made today.

Wait, I forgot to mention lunch! Yes, it was more Bob Evans Mac & Cheese for lunch. I can tell you that this is the food to get! Honestly, Mac & Cheese is the go to food for gum graft surgeries. This statement comes with one caveat. I could eat Mac & Cheese almost every day of the year because I really love it. With my diet restricted so much right now, it makes it even more appealing that I can have something that I crave on a normal day. Yours may be ice cream, or pudding, but for me my delectable of choice is Mac & Cheese for this surgery. I am also needing beef! My body is telling me to have some protein, so I will making a trip to the grocery store tomorrow to purchase hamburger meat. The tricky part is I will need to let it cool before eating, colder things tend to feel better in my mouth right now.

Also, I made some tea today! This time is was decaf but still very refreshing. Remember that decaf tea still has some caffeine in it, just not as much as regular tea. So still be cognizant of how much you consume. Today my consumption was limited to 16oz. and I feel just fine. Between Lunch and Dinner (Linner) I grabbed a Siggi’s – Drinkable Yogurt. Wow, I just realized that my headache is almost nonexistent! Today was truly a major recovery day.

Since I felt pretty good, I finished the day with a 3.2 mile (5k) walk with my neighbor. When home, I took a quick shower and got ready for bed. No Tylenol needed tonight so I guess I’m on the mend!

Day 6

It’s the headache that won’t quit! My face swelling is starting to subside, but this headache is still around! Today was pretty normal and it was the first day I feel like I didn’t need the dental stent while eating food. So I tried it and I was able to eat, but not without problems. I had to keep the food on the opposite side of my mouth, but it was manageable. Because I could eat today, I think I over did it! I ate everything I saw that was soft enough to eat.

Today was all about eating and I did eat a lot of food today! I also had a great night sleep and was able to relax most of the day.

Day 7

One week post op is complete! The good new is I only need to wear the dental stent when I’m eating salty foods or acidic foods like fruit smoothies. Other than that, I can eat most soft foods without it. I still swish tea in my mouth, but spit it out so I don’t have the caffeine issues I had earlier in the week. I took a nap today (It’s Saturday) and it was very refreshing. There is still a slight headache that has been going non-stop for two days now. I’m hoping it will go away before church tomorrow. I will keep everyone posted if my gum graft actually took. My next Periodontal checkup is six days from now.