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A gingival graft 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.
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.
Acellular dermal matrix allograft – This
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
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 teeth must be thoroughly
cleaned supra and subgingivally 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.
The gum grafting procedure is usually performed under
local anesthetic. The exact procedure will depend much on whether
tissue is coming from the patient’s palate or a tissue bank.
Initially, small incisions will be made at the
recipient site to create a small pocket to accommodate the graft. Then a
split thickness incision is made and the connective tissue graft is
inserted into the space between the two sections of tissue. The graft
is usually slightly larger than the recession area, so some excess will
Sutures are often placed to further stabilize the
graft and to prevent any shifting from the designated site. Surgical
material is used to protect the surgical area during the first week of
healing. Uniformity and healing of the gums will be achieved in
approximately six weeks.
If you have any questions about gum grafting, please ask your periodontist.