If you've been told you need a gum graft, you’re not alone. Gum grafting is a very common procedure for people of all ages. A gum graft can protect your teeth from the damaging effects of gum recession. Let’s explore what happens when your gums recede and the gum graft treatments that are available.
What is Gum Recession?
Your gums play a vital role in protecting your teeth and roots from plaque and bacteria. When the gum surrounding your teeth pulls away, it exposes more of the tooth and its roots. This is gum recession, a gradual process that may sneak up on you. Over time, gum recession affects the appearance of your teeth, makes them more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, and susceptible to cavities on the exposed roots. Left untreated, gum recession can cause damage to the supporting bone, leading to tooth loss.
There are many reasons gums recede including:
Thin gum tissue
What is a Gum Graft?
To repair the damage from gum recession, your periodontist may recommend a gum graft: a surgical procedure where a small strip of gum tissue is removed and sutured to cover the exposed root.
Gum grafting may be necessary for:
Older patients with gum recession due to aggressive brushing or genetically thin tissue
Young adults—before they begin any orthodontics (A gum graft can minimize problems during orthodontic treatment, especially if there are signs of recession or thin tissue.)
Patients with exposed roots due to severe recession
Gum Graft Treatment Options
The two common types of gum graft surgeries are connective tissue graft and free gingival graft. Both procedures involve taking tissue from the mouth and attaching it to a recipient site—but they do so in different ways:
Connective tissue grafts are frequently used to treat one or more areas of recession. A flap is cut from the roof of your mouth, exposing the connective tissue layer underneath. A section of tissue is taken from this under layer and stitched over the area of exposed root. The flap is then stitched back down to the roof of your mouth.
Free gingival grafts or gingival grafts are similar to connective tissue grafts, however this type of graft does not involve the use of a flap. During this surgery, tissue is removed directly from the roof of your mouth and attached to the area being treated. This method is used often in people who have thin gums and need additional tissue to enlarge the gums.
Using your own tissue is always preferable, but not always possible. If your periodontist needs to cover the gum area that spans several teeth, the periodontist would have to remove up to 50% of your palate to cover it, so the tissue may need to come from alternate sources, such as a tissue bank.
During a comprehensive evaluation, your periodontist will review your options for care and help you determine a plan you are comfortable with.
Gum Grafting in Bedford, Amherst, and Merrimack, NH
Whichever method you choose, a gum graft will provide stability for your tooth, decrease sensitivity, and improve aesthetics. To find out if gum grafting is a good option for you, contact our office. We proudly serve patients in the Greater Manchester area, including the towns of Bedford, Amherst, and Merrimack.