Gum Graft Failure

A gum graft is a dental procedure to treat gum recession, a condition where the gum tissue surrounding teeth is pulled away, exposing root surfaces. These exposed roots increase the risk of tooth sensitivity and decay. The grafting procedure help replace lost gum tissue, cover the exposed roots, and improve oral health. While the procedure is generally successful, there can be cases of gum graft failure due to various reasons. In this blog post, we will explore what causes gum graft failure and how to prevent it from happening.

What is Gum Graft Surgery?

Gum graft surgery is a type of dental procedure that involves harvesting healthy gum tissues from one area of the mouth and transplanting it to another area where there is gum recession. The main goal of the surgery is to replace lost gum tissue, cover the exposed roots, and prevent further complications.

The procedure is usually performed by a periodontist, a dental specialist who specializes in treating gum diseases and conditions. During the surgery, the periodontist will prepare the recipient area by raising a small flap in the gums and cleaning the tooth’s root (scaling and root planing) to remove bacteria or debris. Then, they will take healthy gum tissue from a donor area and place it over the exposed root.

Finally, the periodontist will stitch the grafted tissue into place to promote healing. The procedure may be followed by gingivoplasty to improve the look of the gums. You can read more about periodontitis gingivoplasty.

Can Gum Grafts Fail?

Yes, gum grafts can fail, but it is not a common occurrence. Gum grafts have a success rate of over 90%. Common causes of gum graft failure include infection, inadequate post-operative care, and improper wound healing.

What Causes Gum Graft Failure?

Gum graft failure occurs when the grafted tissue does not heal properly. This can occur due to:

  • Inadequate post-operative care: Following surgery, you must follow your periodontist’s post-operative instructions closely. Take extra precautions to keep the wound clean. Not doing so can lead to tissue infection or death.
  • Smoking: Nicotine from smoking or other forms of tobacco use can limit healing and increase the chances of gum graft failure.
  • Teeth grinding: If you grind your teeth, the pressure on the gum graft can cause it to fail.
  • Infection: You may develop an infection in the gums around your graft, which can lead to tissue death or failure.
  • Poor diet and nutrition: Nutritional deficiencies can affect the healing process and cause the gum graft to fail. A healthy diet with plenty of vitamins, minerals, and proteins is essential for proper wound healing.
  • Improper wound healing: Poor wound healing could happen if there is not enough blood flow to the area or the patient’s body cannot heal properly. This can lead to gum graft failure.
  • A large area of gum recession: If the area that needs to be grafted is too large, it can lead to gum graft failure.
  • The procedure was not done properly: If the gum graft procedure was done incorrectly, it could lead to failure. These include improper positioning of the graft, not enough tissue taken, improper suturing, and other mistakes. Gum graft surgery is technique-sensitive, so make sure that the periodontist has experience in doing these types of procedures.
  • Patient’s health condition: Patients with certain medical conditions like diabetes or autoimmune diseases may be more prone to graft failure because these conditions interfere with the healing process.

Signs of Gum Graft Failure

Gum graft failure can be diagnosed based on several signs and symptoms, including:

  • Persistent pain
  • Swelling, redness, and tenderness, which may indicate infection
  • The graft site becomes paler than the surrounding tissue because the graft lost its blood supply.
  • Grafted tissue appears to be falling off or coming away from the adjacent gumline
  • Presence of pus or discharge from the surgical area.

If any of these signs or symptoms are present after a gum graft surgery, contact your periodontist immediately for diagnosis and treatment. The earlier the problem is identified the better chance of successful treatment and prevention of further damage.

What Should I Do After Gum Graft Failure?

You can redo the gum graft procedure if it fails. However, you have to wait for at least three months after the initial procedure before attempting another gum graft to allow the area to heal properly.

Attempting a gum graft too soon increases the risk of failure and could make matters worse. During this time, you should take proper care of the affected area to prevent further infection and tissue damage.

How to Prevent Gum Graft Failure?

The key to preventing gum graft failure is proper gum care. You should:

  • Follow the post-operative instructions
  • Taking prescribed medications as directed by your periodontist
  • Gently brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and avoid the surgical site
  • Keep the surgical site clean by rinsing with a prescribed mouthwash
  • Avoid smoking or using tobacco products during the healing period
  • Eat soft foods to reduce pressure on the grafted area
  • Eating a balanced diet that includes foods rich in vitamins and minerals
  • Avoid touching the grafted area
  • Wear a nightguard if you grind your teeth while sleeping
  • Schedule regular check-ups with your dentist to monitor the healing process

Following these tips can increase your chances of gum graft success. You can read more bout gum graft recovery.


Generally, a gum graft is a successful procedure, but occasionally it can fail due to infection, improper technique, or health conditions that interfere with the healing process. It’s important to be aware of the possible signs of failed gum grafts, including pain, redness, and swelling in the grafted area.

If you are considering a gum graft, be sure to talk to your dentist about any potential risks and complications. Following your periodontist’s post-operative instructions is essential for ensuring successful healing and reducing the risk of gum graft failure

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