How Much Does Gum Surgery Cost without Insurance?
Gum or Periodontal surgery is typically done to treat damage from gum disease or as a cosmetic to get rid of excess gum covering the teeth– also known as a gummy smile. Several types of gum surgery can be performed, with gum graft surgery being the most common. Without insurance, a gum graft can cost between $600 and $1,200 for a small area around a tooth.
Cost of Gum Grafting
Gum Surgery can be costly without insurance coverage. Before the procedure, your periodontist typically requests x-rays and an in-office exam to assess your condition's severity; without insurance, this can range between $250 and $500.
To perform gum grafting on one tooth or a small recession area, the cost of gum grafting can cost anywhere between $600 and $1200. If you have multiple teeth that are affected by gum recession, your periodontist might recommend finding donor tissue to cover the area, which can create additional costs.
The second component of gum grafting is gum trimming or gum contouring to make the area look more natural and aesthetically pleasing. This can be performed at the same time as the gum grafting and will raise your total cost per tooth to about $3,000.
Does Insurance Typically Cover Gum Surgery?
Generally speaking, gum surgery is typically covered by insurance. However, each plan will vary regarding the copay amount that patients are responsible for. If you do not have dental insurance, there are other payment options that can ease the financial burden. Some periodontitis offers a monthly payment plan that allows you to break up the total cost of treatment over a set period of time; typically, the actual procedure will be eligible for a payment plan, but preemptive x-rays and follow-up appointments will not be eligible.
What is Gum Grafting?
Gum grafting is a common type of dental surgery that treats gum recession– when your gums pull away from your teeth and expose the tooth root– due to gum diseases or genetic disposition to thinning gums. When teeth roots are exposed, you are at an increased risk for tooth decay, sensitivity, and substantial bone loss; Gum grafting replaces the lost tissue and provides additional protection for your teeth roots.
Gum grafting is performed by a periodontist, who your dentist usually refers you to if they notice signs of gum disease and receding gum lines. Depending on the recession's severity, your periodontist may want to monitor your condition before jumping to surgery.
Gum grafting surgery requires local anesthesia, but many periodontists will offer sedation dentistry, in which oral or IV sedation can be administered to keep you calm during the procedure. Gum grafting occurs in four main stages after anesthesia is administered:
- Site Preparation - following sedation, your periodontist will cut to create a small flap in your gums and clean your teeth roots.
- Harvest the Gum Graft - next, a cut will be made at the roof of your mouth and remove a small piece of tissue. The outer layer will be intact, and stitches will close this site.
- Place the Gum Graft - the tissue harvested from the roof of your mouth, then be placed over your exposed teeth roots, where the recession occurs.
- Place Sutures - your periodontist will make final site adjustments and stitch it into place.
Other Types of Gum Surgery
While gum recession is one of the most common side effects of gum diseases, making gum grafting a common surgery, other surgical options can target other gum disease side effects.
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Types of Gum Surgery
|Name||About the Surgery||What to Expect|
|Flap Surgery||Common procedure that removes excess bacteria on and between the teeth.||To remove the bacteria, gums are flapped up to allow for thorough cleaning. Gums have to be stitched up after the cleaning.|
|Bone Grafting||Occurs when the bone around the root of the teeth gets damaged.||The damaged bone gets replaced with new bone to help the teeth grow. Bone can be from the patient or from a donor.|
|Guided Tissue Regeneration||Helps stimulate tissue and bone growth and hinders bone and tissue from interfering with each other.||A thin membrane is placed between the tissue and bone. After treatment is complete, flap surgery might be recommended to remove bacteria buildup.|
|Crown Lengthening||Surgery used to treat excessive gum lines and growth.||Excess gums are cut off to make the teeth look longer; this surgery is purely cosmetic, and typically not deemed medically necessary.|
Gum Surgery and Gum Grafting Frequently Ask Questions (FAQs)
Below are frequently asked questions regarding gum disease, insurance coverage, and recovery time after surgery.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an infection of your gums that can cause long-term damage to the tissue and bone in your mouth. Gum disease can be divided into two categories:
- Early-Stage Gum Disease (gingivitis) - develops when plaque, tartar, and bacteria build up on and in between your teeth. Symptoms include red, swollen, and bleeding gums. Early-stage gum disease is highly treatable and reversible with timely dental care.
- Advance Gum Disease (periodontitis) - a bacterial infection that inflames the soft tissues around your teeth and can progress to erosion of the bone that supports your teeth. Signs of periodontitis include the gums pulling away from the teeth and forming pockets that expose the roots and nerves.
How do I know I have Gum Disease?
Gum disease is typically diagnosed by your dentist, who will then refer you to a periodontist for specialty care. If you are concerned you might have a gum infection, make an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible– even if you are in between your routine cleanings. Common signs of gum infection include:
- Bad breath, even after brushing
- Swollen or tender gums
- Toothache or pain while chewing
- Loose teeth
- Tooth sensitivity
- Teeth appearing longer than usual due to gum erosion
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How Long Does It Take to Heal From Gum Grafting?
Gum grafting recovery takes about two weeks to return to incorporating solid foods into your diet. Immediately after your surgery, you will experience bleeding, swelling, and discomfort. To manage side effects, follow your doctor's instructions in terms of medication and avoid any strenuous activities. During this period, you should only consume soft, cool foods and clean the area with antibacterial mouthwash.
What Should I Expect After Gum Grafting Surgery?
Your periodontics will likely schedule a follow-up appointment within the first week to assess your healing progress. At this point, you should be able to incorporate more soft foods into your diet, like eggs and pasta.
Bleeding and swelling should decrease significantly by the second week, and your comfort level should continually improve. It's essential to stay in communication with your doctor regarding cleaning instructions and decreasing medication dosage. You can continually incorporate more soft foods in your diet, but avoid anything hard, crunchy, or spicy until your doctor clears you.
Once your doctor gives you the okay, you can resume brushing and flossing. At some point in your recovery process, your periodontist will approve your return to your normal dentist for traditional follow-up appointments.
Gum surgery is an expensive procedure if you do not have dental insurance. Between x-rays, consultation appointments, surgery, and gum contouring, you will pay upward of $3,000 for one area. Nevertheless, if gum disease has progressed to other areas of your mouth, you might be paying double or triple that amount.
While payment options are available, the best way to ensure your surgery will not break the bank is to have dental insurance. While this option is not feasible or the best alternative for everyone, consider your dental usage and your history of oral issues; if you are already a dental regular and your dentist is monitoring other oral problems, it might be time to invest in dental insurance.
Originally from Houston, Texas, Alexandra is currently getting her Master's in Public Health with a health policy certificate at Columbia University. One of her life goals is to own her own art gallery!