What is a Gum Graft?
A gum graft (also known as a gingival graft or periodontal plastic surgery), is a collective name for surgical periodontal procedures that aim to cover an exposed tooth root surface with grafted oral tissue.
Exposed tooth roots are usually the result of gingival recession due to periodontal disease. There are other common causes, including overly aggressive brushing and trauma.
Here are some of the most common types of gum grafting:
Free gingival graft – This procedure is often used to thicken gum tissue. A layer of tissue is removed from the palate and relocated to the area affected by gum recession. Both sites will quickly heal without permanent damage. We usually do not perform this type of graft due to the wound on the palate and complaints from patients.
Subepithelial connective tissue graft – This procedure is commonly used to cover exposed roots. Tissue is removed fairly painlessly from the outer layer of the palate and relocated to the site of gum recession. Again, this procedure uses tissue from the roof of the mouth, so we rarely use this procedure.
Acellular dermal matrix allograft
– This state-of-the-art procedure uses medically processed, donated human tissue as a tissue source for the graft. The advantage of this is procedure is that there is no need for a donor site from the patient’s palate (and thus, less pain). It also allows us to cover multiple teeth in one surgery to minimize the number of surgeries. What is Acellular Dermal Matrix?
Reasons for gum grafting
Gum grafting is a common periodontal procedure. Though the name might sound frightening, the procedure is commonly performed with excellent results.
Here are some of the major benefits associated with gum grafting:
Reduced sensitivity – When the tooth root becomes exposed, eating or drinking hot or cold foods can cause extreme sensitivity to the teeth. Gum grafting surgery permanently covers the exposed root, helps reduce discomfort, and restores the good health of the gums.
Improved appearance – Periodontal disease is characterized by gum recession and inflammation. Gum recession and root exposure can make the teeth look longer than normal and the smile to appear “toothy.” Gum grafting can make the teeth look shorter, more symmetrical and generally more pleasing to look at. In addition, adjacent tissue can be enhanced and augmented during the procedure for aesthetic purposes.
Improved gum health – Periodontal disease can progress and destroy gum tissue very rapidly. If left untreated, a large amount of gum tissue can be lost in a short period of time. Gum grafting can help halt tissue and bone loss; preventing further problems and protecting exposed roots from further decay.
What does gum grafting treatment involve?
Once the need for gum grafting surgery has been determined, there are several treatments the dentist will want perform before gum grafting takes place. First, the cause of the gum loss will need to be addressed. Some of the causes of gum recession can be periodontal disease, overly aggressive toothbrushing or using the wrong type of toothbrush (medium or hard bristles). If the cause is periodontal disease, the teeth must be thoroughly cleaned above and below the gum to remove calculus (tartar) and bacteria. The dentist can also provide literature, advice and educational tools to increase the effectiveness of homecare and help reduce the susceptibility of periodontal disease in the future. Aggressive toothbrushing habits will also need to be changed before undergoing corrective surgery.
The gum grafting procedure is usually performed under local anesthetic and IV concious sedation. The exact procedure will depend much on whether tissue is coming from the patient’s palate or a tissue bank. Usually there is no need to harvest tissue from the roof of the patient's mouth (this is often the most painful part of the whole procedure).
Initially, microsurgical incisions are made at the recipient site to create a small pouch around the teeth to accommodate the graft. There is no flap like in traditional methods for soft tissue grafting. The tissue graft (from a tissue bank) is inserted into the pouch and the gums are positioned to cover the roots of the teeth. This serves to thicken the tissue, resist future recession, and cover the exposed roots. Since the donor tissue is completely underneath the patient's own tissue, the results are both functional and highly esthetic. Best of all, there is only one surgical site, so the patient can only expect 2-3 days of mild to moderate discomfort.
If you would like more information on Gum Grafting in Dallas by Dr. Marshal Goldberg please email Scheduling@LincolnParkPerio.com, or call 214-890-7777