Your gums are the framework for a healthy, beautiful smile. Gum recession is very prevalent in today's society due to a combination of factors often involving genetics, malpositioned teeth, and heavy brushing habits. The resulting exposed root surfaces and thin tissue lack the appropriate seal around the tooth that gum tissue is meant to provide, contributing to bone loss in the site. Ultimately, this causes an increased risk of root cavities, painful tooth sensitivity, and teeth that appear quite long cosmetically.
There is good news though. You don’t have to compromise on your health or your smile. We specialize in advanced techniques that not only restore the health of your gums but also restore maximum confidence in your smile.
Gum grafts come in many forms, but usually involve the movement of gum tissue from one area of the mouth to another to protect the root surfaces from decay or toothbrush abrasion, to prevent additional gum recession and/or to make the gums thicker and stronger around the teeth. We find that we can address most concerns with two types of gum graft procedures:
Free Gingival Graft
This is one of the oldest grafting procedures still performed. This procedure involves taking a small piece of gum tissue from the roof of the mouth and placing it below the gum recession or thin gum tissue to create a seal around the tooth to prevent further bacterial access and to prevent further bone loss. It does not usually cover the exposed root, but can allow the gumline to move on its own, closer to where it belongs as shown in the photos on the right. It may be possible to use sites other than the roof of the mouth to obtain the needed gum tissue, which can reduce the post-surgical soreness. There are even tissue banks these days where donor gum tissue can be purchased for this graft, completely eliminating the need to create a second surgical site when obtaining the donor gum tissue. There are a number of clinical parameters that help the periodontist determine if this is the type of gum graft needed or if the Connective Tissue Graft is a better alternative.
Connective Tissue Graft for Root Coverage
The connective tissue graft is relatively new as it was first described in 1986. Until then, attempts to cover exposed roots often failed or produced less than optimal results. The connective tissue graft uses a small piece of gum tissue usually obtained from the roof of the mouth or from a donor tissue bank. The donor gum tissue is placed under the existing gums and then the gums are stretched over the donor gum tissue to tuck it into place and cover the root. This will result in coverage of the exposed roots and thickening of the gums to help prevent the gum recession from recurring, but toothbrushing methods must also be gentle. As gum recession becomes more severe, a periodontist's ability to use this grafting procedure decreases and it can result in the need for a two step procedure which is usually not as cosmetically pleasing. Early treatment of exposed roots is recommended due to the higher success rate.