Soft Tissue Grafting

General Information & Overview

Gum recession is the process in which the tissue that surrounds the teeth pulls away from a tooth, exposing more of the tooth or the tooth's root. Eventually, gum recession, if not treated, can cause tooth loss. To repair the damage and prevent further dental problems, a gum tissue graft may be needed. Gum recession can cause damage to supporting bone & is a common dental problem; it affects 4% to 12% of adults and often goes unnoticed until it becomes more severe.

Many people don't even notice that their gums have receded because it is a gradual process. However, over time, an exposed tooth root can not only look aesthetically displeasing but can cause tooth sensitivity, especially when eating cold or hot foods.

Some dentists and patients prefer to use graft material from a tissue bank instead of from the roof of the mouth. Sometimes, tissue-stimulating proteins are used to encourage your body's natural ability to grow bone and tissue. Dr. Acharya can tell you which method will work best for you.

Soft Tissue Grafting Procedure

Three different types of gum tissue grafts are typically performed. Which type your dentist uses on you will depend on your specific needs. The graft procedures include:

Connective-Tissue Grafts

This is the most common method used to treat root exposure. During the procedure, a flap of skin is cut at the roof of your mouth (palate) and tissue from under the flap, called subepithelial connective tissue, is removed and then stitched to the gum tissue surrounding the exposed root. After the connective tissue or the graft has been removed from under the palatal flap, the flap is stitched back down.

Free Gingival Grafts

Similar to a connective-tissue graft, free gingival grafts involve the use of tissue from the roof of the mouth. But instead of making a flap and removing tissue under the top layer of flesh, a small amount of tissue is removed directly from the roof of the mouth and then attached to the gum area being treated. This method is used most often in people who have thin gums, to begin with, and need an additional tissue to enlarge the gums.

Pedicle Grafts

In this procedure, instead of taking tissue from the palate, it is grafted from gum around or near the tooth needing repair. The flap, called a pedicle, is only partially cut away so that one edge remains attached. The gum is then pulled over or down to cover the exposed root and sewn into place. This procedure can only be done in people who have plenty of gum tissue near the tooth.

The Benefits

A soft tissue graft can reduce further recession and bone loss. In some cases, it can cover exposed roots to protect them from decay. This may reduce tooth sensitivity and improve the aesthetics of your smile. Whether you have crown lengthening to improve function or esthetics, patients often receive the benefits of both: a beautiful new smile and improved periodontal health-your keys to smiling, eating and speaking with comfort and confidence.

Will I Need Another Gum Tissue Graft?

While gum tissue grafts are effective at repairing gum recession and preventing further damage, there is no guarantee that gum problems won't develop again in the future. However, with regular dental checkups and careful dental care at home, serious damage requiring surgery can be prevented.

Other ways to prevent gum disease include:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss daily
  • Rinse once or twice a day with an antiseptic mouthwash
  • Visit your dentist routinely for checkups and professional teeth cleaning and see your periodontist as needed.
  • Eat a well balanced and healthy diet.
  • Don't smoke.