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Exercise After Gum Grafting: How Long to Wait and Why 

exercise after gum grafting

If you’re scheduled for a gum graft, understanding the postoperative phase can help you make a full recovery. For instance, knowing when you can resume light cardio or exercise after gum grafting can speed up your recovery by minimizing the risk of bleeding and other complications.

Like any surgical procedure, whilst rare, a gum graft poses some surgical complications. After you’ve had a soft tissue graft there are several possible risks. These include  

  • Bleeding at the donor site in the palate
  • Tears in the graft or stitches
  • Uneven healing
  • The graft may move out of place
  • Infection
  • Swelling

These complications can all lead to the failure of the graft. 

Physical activity can heighten the effects and probability of bleeding and graft failure. Consequently, you should allow your graft to heal before you return to physical activity. Gum grafts can take around two weeks to heal, so waiting until your graft has healed would be the optimum time to wait before returning to exercise.

However, if you can’t wait that long, you may be wondering when you can start exercising again. In general, strenuous exercise or lifting heavy weights should be avoided for the first 7-10 days. Light exercise can be recommenced after 3-4 days provided you haven’t been advised otherwise by your surgeon. 

To help you have the most effective recovery possible, here’s everything you need to know about post-surgery exercise, including how long after gum grafting you can work out and when to re-introduce different types of activity.

Top Tip: The advice given is specific and ultimately, you should ask your dentist or periodontist when it’s safe to start exercising, as procedures, healing and recovery times vary from person to person. 

Why Avoid Exercise Following a Gum Graft

Exercise is good for you, everyone tells you to do some, so why are you told to avoid it after a gum graft? 

The issue with exercise is that it increases your blood pressure, which can increase the risk of bleeding at the grafting or donor site. This is of most concern within the first 24-48 hours. So all exercise should be avoided during this time. 

Light exercise, such as walking for 30 minutes can be restarted 4-5 days post-op. Avoid walking too fast or hiking which raises the blood pressure. 

Any movement in the lip muscles caused by exercising could also lead to movement in the grafted tissue or straining of the sutures leading to its failure. Any significant exercise should be avoided for 2-7 days following your procedure to avoid the risk of graft failure.

Rest Is Essential Following a Gum Graft

Rest is also crucial in the successful recovery and proper healing of the grafted material and the area the donor tissue was taken from. If you’re exercising you’re not resting which gives your body time to heal properly. 

When Can I Start Exercising Post Gum Graft

The Day of Surgery

What’s the best way to prevent complications?  After a gum graft, instead of doing exercise, including light cardio, you should do nothing – you should rest.

In general, most patients will find it easy to follow this advice for the first couple of days as they may feel groggy post-surgery and may be experiencing some mild discomfort, pain and swelling.  

Any prescribed painkiller may also make it unsafe to drive or do other normal activities like exercise. 

Post-surgery you are also advised to eat a restricted liquid and soft food diet to avoid discomfort caused by eating hard foods, so you may not have as much energy as usual to exercise. 

Can you walk after gum grafting

In the days following surgery, you can walk around the house or out to the car for your lift home but anything more strenuous should be avoided. 

4-5 Days After Surgery

Provided your recovery is going smoothly, the symptoms of pain and swelling have subsided, you’re not experiencing complications and you’re feeling well enough you may add light cardio such as walking for 20–30 mins a day.

What is Light Cardio?

Light cardio, sometimes referred to as low-intensity or low-impact exercise, refers to exercise or physical activities that raise your heart rate without it soaring. As a guide, you should be able to talk or sing while you work out. 

Note: avoid all exercises that will raise your blood pressure such as HIIT, Spin, Basketball & Boxing as they may increase the risk of bleeding at the surgical site or risk movements in the area causing stitches to tear or grafts to move.  This also includes any heavy lifting at home, at work or in the gym. 

7-10 Days Post Op

Assuming your surgery was routine, and your surgeon didn’t advise you differently, you can gradually return to your pre-surgery routine. 

However, you should delay returning to exercise longer if any of the following apply:

  • your surgeon advised you otherwise
  • you’re still taking pain medication
  • you’re not eating properly 
  • you’re experiencing post-surgical complications such as bleeding and swelling.

NOTE – If your sport of choice is a contact sport such as football (American), soccer, rugby, or hockey it would be best to stay on the sidelines until the graft has healed. 

If you do work out, listen to your body – if you feel tired, dizzy or have pain in your mouth, stop exercising and wait a few more days. 

As we mentioned above this is general advice, and asking your clinician for advice following your surgery would be advisable. They know the specifics of your surgery and can advise on how quickly to return to exercise following your treatment. 

In Summary

Like all surgical procedures, whilst rare, complications that lead to graft failure can occur. Exercising after a gum graft too soon can exacerbate or result in these post-op complications.

Grafts usually heal within two weeks of surgery, so if you can, it may be ideal to wait this length of time before you hit the gym or pound the pavement. 

However, if you are reluctant to sit on the sofa watching box sets for that long, dental experts advise you to wait 4-5 days before introducing light cardio such as walking. After 7 to ten days, provided you haven’t been told otherwise, you can slowly return to your usual schedule unless this is a contact sport. 

A Note From The Dentists here at the Gum Disease Guide

Poor oral hygiene is a major cause of gum disease that frequently leads to gum recession when left untreated. Gum disease and gum recession can be avoided by developing and maintaining good oral hygiene at home – brushing the teeth twice a day with the correct technique.

Join over 6500+ people who have beaten Gum Disease using this method at home without expensive, rushed and ineffective dental visits. Your Gum Disease: Solved.