When recession of the gingiva (gums around the teeth) 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.
Recession of the gingiva also indicates that there has been recession of the bone underneath.
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 of the gum and tooth. When significant, gum recession can predispose to worsening recession and expose the root surface, which is softer than enamel, leading to cavities on the root and root gouging.
Before and after gum grafting
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 gingival graft may be placed in such a way as to cover the exposed portion of the root. In some cases donor tissue can also be used instead of palatal gum tissue.
The aim of the soft tissue graft is to thicken the gum tissue around the affected tooth. This thicker gingiva will provide the protection needed to prevent further shrinking of the gums away from the tooth.
The gingival graft procedure is highly predictable and results in a stable healthy band of attached tissue around the tooth.