When recession of the gingiva occurs, the body loses a natural defense against both bacterial penetration and trauma. When gum recession is a problem, gum reconstruction using grafting techniques is an option. Many times gum recession also results in a cosmetic defect and a “long in the tooth” look!

When there is only minor recession, some healthy gingiva often remains and protects the tooth, so that no treatment other than modifying home care practices is necessary. However, when recession reaches the mucosa, the first line of defense against bacterial penetration is lost.

In addition, gum recession often results in root sensitivity to hot and cold foods as well as an unsightly appearance to the gum and tooth. Gum recession, when significant, can predispose to worsening recession and expose the root surface, which is softer than enamel, leading to root caries and root gouging.

A gingival graft is designed to solve these problems. A thin piece of tissue is taken from the roof of the mouth, or gently moved over from adjacent areas, to provide a stable band of attached gingiva around the tooth.   Some patients may choose to use donor skin (Alloderm) instead of having tissue harvested from their palate.  This option has the advantage of being pain free in the palate and having a more comfortable healing time.  The gingival graft is placed over the exposed portion of the root to which it will attach.

The gingival graft procedure is highly predictable and results in a stable healthy band of attached tissue around the tooth. Furthermore it helps protect the exposed and soft root surface.This patient has complaints of excess tooth root exposure and root sensitivity to food. There is severe gum recession on the canine tooth. Gum grafts were planned for the premolar and canine teeth.

The patient had a gum graft procedure on the premolar and the canine.  The roots of both teeth are completely covered and the root sensitivity has disappeared.  The patient now has an esthetic smile.

New Grafting Technique

Now a newer grafting technique is available so that you don’t have to endure the painful removal of tissue from the roof of the mouth.  Tissue is used from a donor source to replace the need to take tissue from the roof of the mouth.  This tissue is processed and sterilized so that there is no chance of disease transmission and is used to thicken the tissue where recession and thin tissue is breaking down.

The recovery time is much faster and less painful.  It also allows for many more sites to be treated at one visit, thus reducing the inconvenience of being out of work or school.

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