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Soft Tissue Grafts or “Gum Grafts”

In addition to the development of pockets and bone loss, periodontal disease can cause the gums to recede, thereby exposing the roots of the teeth. When the root of a tooth loses its overlying soft tissue, it becomes more vulnerable to decay, sensitivity and additional bone loss. Gum recession also takes a toll on smile aesthetics. Having front teeth affected by this problem can make a broad smile less aesthetically appealing as uncovered root structure is displayed. While gum recession is often a consequence of gum disease, aggressive tooth brushing and other habits can also wear away gum tissue.

By performing a gum graft procedure, which is also known as a “gingival graft or soft tissue graft,” the dentist replaces the soft tissue over the exposed area of the tooth to address the problems created by receding gums. Gum tissue for grafting procedures can be harvested from a nearby site in the mouth or obtained from another donor source. A gum graft may be performed on a single tooth or multiple ones. And, based upon the needs of the case, the dentist will determine which type of gum graft to employ.

The three types of gum grafts include the following:

  • Free gingival graft-This graft utilizes a small piece of tissue that is taken from the palate. It is often indicated when extra thick tissue is needed to prevent further recession.
  • Connective tissue graft- This frequently used graft is harvested from a sub-layer of connective tissue located under the uppermost tissue layer on the roof of the mouth.
  • Pedicle graft-This type of graft is created from a flap of tissue that is adjacent to the area of the gum recession.

Following a gum graft procedure, the dentist will provide detailed post-operative care instructions as well as set up appointments to make sure the surgical site is healing properly and to check that the graft is successful.