A gum graft is often required when gum recession has occurred that exposes the tooth beneath the crown (the part of the tooth above gum tissue that you normally see). The main problem with severe gum recession is that when the root of the tooth becomes exposed, the patient may experience sensitivity, tooth decay, gum disease (leading to bone loss) … and in many cases the patient is unhappy with the appearance of receding gum tissue.
A gum graft is a surgical procedure where the periodontist covers the receding gums using tissue either from the patient’s mouth or relies on a tissue bank.
There are three basic types of gum grafts:
Connective tissue grafts – your periodontist will open a flap in the roof of the mouth (palate), remove tissue to graft on gums, and close the flap. This can result in discomfort for a few days.
Free gingival grafts – skin from the palate itself is used for the graft.
And pedicle grafts – if there is sufficient gum tissue surrounding an adjacent tooth, your periodontist may graft some gum tissue from a neighboring tooth.
Although a gum graft is not considered major dental surgery, it is best to consult with a specialist (periodontist) for optimum results. Preventing the need for gum grafts starts with knowing why gum recession occurs:
Heredity – You can’t change who your ancestors are, but you can take steps to manage your oral health.
Overzealous brushing with the wrong tools – Many patients believe they must scrub their teeth to remove plaque and keep them looking as white as possible. In actuality, brushing with a soft bristle toothbrush using moderate pressure and a fluoridated toothpaste is appropriate. An electric toothbrush is a fabulous tool. You just guide it around your mouth to reach the front, back, and top of all teeth focusing on a small area at a time. A timer will alert when you’ve brushed the recommended two minutes.
Lack of flossing – Your toothbrush only reaches two thirds of the surface of teeth. We rely on flossing to remove food particles that your toothbrush didn’t reach. And daily flossing invigorates gum tissue to support gum health.
Tobacco use – Smoking is a leading cause of gum disease and can promote gum recession.
Maintaining great gum health may eliminate the need for gum grafts; our periodontist will recommend treatment as needed so call us today!