Gingival (Gum) Grafting
Another cosmetic procedure is the soft tissue graft. It is used to cover unattractive tooth root surfaces, reduce gum recession and protect the roots from decay and eventual tooth loss.
When recession of the gingiva occurs, the body loses a natural defense against both bacterial penetration and trauma. 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 stimulants as well as an unsightly appearance to the gum and tooth root gum recession, when significant, can predispose one to further recession and exposure of the root surface. The root is softer than the enamel shell of the crown of the tooth. Thus, exposure can lead to root caries, root gouging and increased root sensitivity.
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. The procedure is highly predictable and results in healthy tissue around the tooth.
These procedures are a predictable way to cover unsightly, sensitive or exposed root surfaces and to prevent future gum recession.
Indentations in the gums, bone loss and food traps under bridges are all somewhat correctable by gingival grafting. In these situations a soft tissue graft from the roof of the mouth is placed under the existing skin of the defect to thicken or ‘augment’ the existing tissue. Once placed the healing process can make the teeth look more natural. When the patient is getting a new bridge, this procedure can be performed prior to the bridge and the new teeth can be made to look like they are naturally coming out of the gums!