Post Operative Instructions for Gum Grafts

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Generally, patients are offered either 800 mg ibuprofen or 500 mg extra strength Tylenol pre-operative as a loading dose to bridge the gap between the time immediately after surgery and the time to fill a prescription.  Please take any medicines as prescribed. Most prescriptions will suggest dosing increments of 4 to 6 hours. It is important to maintain a therapeutic level of medicine as it is far easier to prevent pain than to overcome pain.  If you are prescribed a narcotic, it is important not to drive or operate machinery until you are familiar with how the drug affects your body. Mixing alcohol and prescription drugs is highly discouraged. 

Antibiotics are only indicated following tissue grafting if the tissue source is from a donor. In most cases, the tissue is harvested from the patient so no antibiotic coverage is necessary.

Swelling may occur following your surgical procedure and typically peaks approximately 2-3 days after the procedure. To minimize the swelling, please follow these recommendations: 

  • Wait a minimum of 24 hours before exercising. 
  • Elevate your head when lying down (use extra pillow when sleeping).
  • DO NOT use ice as it will slow the blood circulation to the graft area and can increase the possibility of failure. 

A small amount of bleeding is normal and commonly occurs a few hours after the procedure and with waking the next morning. It is important Not to spit or drink through a straw during the first 24 hours following the procedure. To rinse your mouth, lightly move the liquid around the mouth and open allow the liquid to drain out. With excessive or continuous bleeding, apply a moistened gauze to the immediate area and apply moderate pressure for 20 minutes to the HARVEST SITE. Apply finger pressure to the outside of the face over the GUM GRAFT SITE in the event of excessive or continuous bleeding. Please contact us if the bleeding persists.
DO NOT manipulate any stitches at the GUM GRAFT SITE. These stitches are resorbable and will dissolve in 4 to 7 days. The HARVEST SITE will have either a liquid band-aid or resorbable stitches. The liquid band-aid will chip away over the next 1-2 weeks. It provides thermal protection when eating and drinking.  Again, the resorbable stitches will dissolve in 4 to 7 days at the HARVEST SITE. 

Smoking during the healing phase will compromise the ability to have a successful outcome. Smoking compromises blood flow to the harvest gum tissue. 

Avoid chewing on the surgical side for 1-2 weeks. A soft diet is recommended (eggs, yogurt, soup, casseroles, etc.). Avoid any hard foods with sharp edges such as chips, popcorn, granola, or meat on a bone. 

DO NOT floss the teeth in the area where the tissue was placed. Cautious brush ONLY THE TEETH NOT THE GUMS in that area. You will use Periogard rinse for the gum tissue.  Brush and floss the remaining teeth as usual. 


  • The gum tissue will undergo changes for the next 1-2 weeks. The graft color may change from pink to white. This is NORMAL. Then the color will change to red and then back to pink as the swelling decreases. 
  • It is recommended that you do not look at the site until after the first post-op appointment. Muscles in your lip and face may manipulate the location of the newly placed graft. Avoid any contact of the graft with your fingers or toothbrush. 
  • The whole healing process averages 4-6 weeks.


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