Gum Grafting

Before and after gum grafting

When recession of the gingiva 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.
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, gym recession can predispose to worsening recession and expose the root surface, which is softer than enamel, leading to root decay.

before and after gum grafting

A gingival graft is designed to solve these problems. Three or four different surgical techniques can be used to address gum recession. In some techniques, 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. Other times, we can use an acellular dermal graft (Alloderm or Perioderm) for the same purpose. The advantage of the dermal graft is that no palatal donor site is required. The choice of technique often depends on the anatomy, severity, and location of the recession.

The gingival graft procedure is highly predictable and results in a stable healthy band of attached tissue around the tooth. Generally, the main goal of gingival grafting is to increase the tough, bound down gum tissue around teeth to prevent further recession. However, we often have the secondary goal of covering the exposed root surface as well.