What is gum recession?
There are two types of soft tissue in the mouth. One surrounds the necks of the teeth and is thick and protective in nature (keratinized gingiva). The other, which lines our cheeks and floor of the mouth, is elastic and mobile in nature (mucosa). You can tell your gingiva has receded when you look in the mirror and see the exposed, yellow roots of your teeth. Another clue is that the tooth with recession looks longer than the adjacent teeth; “long in the tooth” as they say. The protective, gingiva can recede for a variety of reasons including: aggressive brushing, poor oral hygiene with subsequent periodontal disease, orthodontic tooth movement and fillings placed at the bottom of the tooth near the gum line.
Why is a gum graft needed?
With recession of gingiva, the first line of defense against bacterial penetration is compromised. Gum recession can result in root sensitivity to hot and cold foods as well as an unsightly appearance of the gingiva and teeth. The exposed root surface is softer than enamel and more susceptible to cavities or toothbrush abrasion. When severe, gum recession can predispose to worsening recession.
How does a gum graft help?
Gum graft therapy restores the receded gum and helps to prevent continued recession and bone loss. In our profession we refer to this type of therapy as soft tissue or gingival grafting because it’s purpose is to regain lost gingiva. In addition to preventing future gum loss, a graft can also be used to improve your smile by making the gum line even across the front teeth; getting rid of that “long in the tooth” look and by covering up exposed, yellowish roots. As exposed roots can be temperature sensitive (such as occurs with cold drinks) and susceptible to cavities, covering the roots with gum tissue can alleviate discomfort and protect them from decay
Where does the new gum tissue come from?
Commonly, a thin layer of soft tissue is taken from the roof of your mouth (palate) to be placed over the exposed root surface. The roof of the mouth heals completely back to how it was before the surgery within weeks. Another source is healthy gum from adjacent teeth. As with the palate, this graft source heals quickly. The technique that will be used to treat your teeth’s recession and the source is determined and discussed with you at the consultation appointment.
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