Gum Graft

A frequent symptom of gum disease is gum recession (also called gingival recession). As the gums recede, more of the roots are revealed. This can make teeth appear longer and can also create sensitivity to hot or cold liquids or food. It also exposes the tooth to increased damage from gum disease, as bacteria, plaque, and tartar attack the surface of the tooth and the root.

A gum graft (also known as a gingival graft or periodontal plastic surgery), is a collective name for surgical periodontal procedures that aim to cover an exposed tooth root surface with grafted oral tissue. The goal of this procedure is two-fold: to cover the exposed root of course, but also to create a strong thick attachment of the gums to the teeth in order to avoid further recession in the future.  The gums, ligaments, and underlying bone (also known as the periodontium) are what keep our teeth in place, so ensuring that they are healthy and properly attached to the teeth is of the utmost importance.

Exposed tooth roots are usually the result of gingival recession due to periodontal disease, but can also occur from aggressive brushing and trauma.  Orthodontic movement of the teeth can also lead to gum recession in areas where the your arch was expanded and teeth were moved outwardly to create space for correcting teeth that are crowded or overlapped.  There is also a very strong genetic factor related to periodontal disease and thus to recession. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms or area simply concerned that you may be experiencing gum recession, please call for a consultation today.

Reasons for gum grafting consultation:

  • If you have experienced gum recession
  • If the your areas of recession are sensitive to hot or cold
  • If you are considering orthodontic treatment (traditional or Invisalign)
  • If you have a personal or family history of periodontal disease

Gum grafting is a common periodontal procedure, and the procedure is commonly performed with excellent results.

Some of the major benefits associated with gum grafting:

Reduced sensitivity – When the tooth root becomes exposed, eating or drinking hot or cold foods can cause extreme sensitivity to the teeth.  Gum grafting surgery permanently covers the exposed root, helps reduce discomfort, and restores the good health of the gums.

Improved appearance – Periodontal disease is characterized by gum recession and inflammation.  Gum recession and root exposure can make the teeth look longer than normal and the smile to appear “toothy.”  Gum grafting can make the teeth look shorter, more symmetrical and generally more pleasing to look at.  In addition, adjacent tissue can be enhanced and augmented during the procedure for aesthetic purposes.

Improved gum health – Periodontal disease can progress and destroy gum tissue very rapidly.  If left untreated, a large amount of gum tissue can be lost in a short period of time.  Gum grafting can help halt tissue and bone loss; preventing further problems and protecting exposed roots from further decay.

What does gum grafting treatment involve?

Once the need for gum grafting surgery has been determined, there are several treatments the dentist will want to perform before gum grafting takes place.  First, the teeth must be thoroughly cleaned supra and subgingivally to remove calculus (tartar) and bacteria.  The dentist can also provide literature, advice and educational tools to increase the effectiveness of homecare and help reduce the susceptibility of periodontal disease in the future.

The gum grafting procedure is usually performed under local anesthetic.  The exact procedure will depend much on whether tissue is coming from the patient’s palate or a tissue bank.

Initially, small incisions will be made at the recipient site to create a small pocket to accommodate the graft.  Then a split thickness incision is made and the connective tissue graft is inserted into the space between the two sections of tissue.  The graft is usually slightly larger than the recession area, so some excess will be apparent.

Sutures are often placed to further stabilize the graft and to prevent any shifting from the designated site.  Uniformity and healing of the gums will be achieved in approximately six weeks.

If you have any questions about gum grafting, please contact us.