What is a Gum Graft?

Being “long in the teeth” isn’t a rite of passage into mature adulthood. Nor is it normal for gums to start to pull back and recede around healthy teeth. Gum recession leaves tooth surfaces exposed that ought not to be. Instead of protecting the roots of your teeth, these susceptible areas are at an increased chance of developing decay and becoming mobile.

When gums recede, it’s an indication that the bone below them is shrinking away as well. But minor to moderate gum recession can be more of an aesthetic concern than it is structural, especially if it’s your anterior (front) teeth that are involved.

Fortunately, a gum graft can help. Soft tissue gingival grafts work by re-covering tooth surfaces that have suffered from receding gumlines. Covering them with new gum tissue improves their appearance while also protecting the teeth.

Types of Soft Tissue Grafts

Depending on your oral health condition, the severity of your gum recession, and personal preferences, gum grafts can be selected from a few different sources.

Connective Tissue Grafts — This extremely common graft uses a piece of connective tissue taken from the roof of your mouth by creating a small flap in the skin, removing some of the tissues underneath, then reattaching/closing the flap. The tissue is then sutured over the exposed tooth root to keep it in place as it heals.

Free Gingival Grafts — Similar to connective tissue grafts, free gum grafts use a piece of skin taken from the roof of your mouth (but without a flap being made.) Free gingival grafts are usually preferable when a large area of gum tissue needs to be restored.

Pedicle Grafts — If there is plenty of gingival tissue adjacent to the tooth with recession, it can be partially sectioned and then stretched over the tooth that’s exposed.

Allografts — Donor tissues are a safe and medically processed source (frequently used for burn victims) to prevent the need of harvesting tissue from your own body, which can sometimes be uncomfortable. As such, allografts lessen healing time.

Promoting Success in Your New Gum Graft

In order for your graft to be successful, you’ll need to practice meticulous oral hygiene as the area heals (to prevent infection.) Carefully follow your dentist’s recommendations so as not to be too aggressive and cause the graft to fail.

Additionally, the circumstances that led up to the reason for needing a graft will want to be kept in check. It could be that you’ve had a habit of aggressive toothbrushing, using a stiff-bristled brush, tend to use smokeless tobacco or cigarettes, or were recently treated for periodontitis. Keep all of these factors in mind, so that your new soft tissue investment will be a success.

Do You Need a Gum Graft? Visit a Kois Center Dentist

Protect the stability and aesthetics of your smile with a gingival graft. Visit a Kois Center dentist in your area to learn more about the types of grafts that are best for your smile (and possible alternatives that may be available.)