Have your teeth started looking “longer” than normal? Experiencing sensitivity to hot and cold when you eat or drink?
If so, you may have gum recession and should see your dentist to have your mouth, especially your gums, evaluated.
Gum recession is a condition that affects between 4% and 12% of adults and occurs when the tissue surrounding your teeth starts to pull away from a tooth. This exposes more of the tooth and, potentially, the tooth root and can cause damage to supporting bone in severe cases.
Gum Graft Surgery Options
A gum graft (also called a gingival graft) is a periodontal plastic surgery used to treat more advanced cases of gum recession. Gum graft surgery both repairs the damage and can prevent further issues.
There are 3 different types of gum graft procedures that are commonly performed. Your dentist (or periodontist – a dentist who specializes in gum disease) will evaluate your situation and determine which one is best for you. The gum graft procedures include:
Connective Tissue Grafts
This procedure is used to cover exposed roots. It is performed by cutting a flap of skin in the roof of your mouth (called the palate). Your periodontist will then take tissue from beneath that flap and stitch it to the gum tissue around your exposed root(s). After the tissue has been removed from under the flap, the flap is stitched back into place.
This is the most common type of gum graft surgery. An advantage of this procedure is that the surface wounds are minimized. This means healing is quicker and typically more comfortable when compared to other grafting options.
Free Gingival Grafts
Unfortunately, “free” does not relate to the cost of this procedure! This technique is similar to the connective tissue graft. The difference being a very thin layer of skin (about 1mm or less in thickness) is taken directly from the palate (or other sites where the tissue is identical to the gum tissue). It is called “free” because the tissue is “freed” from the donor site completely.
Recently, new advances in periodontal plastic surgery techniques are reducing or eliminating the needs for taking donor tissue from the palate. This is accomplished using an allograft which is a tissue graft taken from another person (not the patient experiencing the gum recession). In cases where a larger area needs grafting, using an allograft can be used safely and effectively.
In this treatment, the tissue is not taken from the palate but from the gum near the tooth in need of repair. For pedicle grafts, a flap (called a pedicle) is cut so one edge remains attached. The gum is then pulled down or over in order to cover the exposed root and is then sewn into place.
Performed by an experienced periodontist, the above procedures are highly effective in reconstructing and regenerating tissue that’s been lost to gum disease. The end result for you will be a reduction or elimination of sensitivity, improved gum health and a beautiful smile that will have you smiling, eating and talking with confidence.