Gum Grafting

Soft tissue augmentation (or gum grafting) is a surgical procedure often performed to treat gingival recession.

Gingival recession can be caused by many things: thin gum tissue, thin underlying bone, aberrant frenum attachments tooth movement/orthodontics, bacteria/periodontal disease, improper dental work/restorations, improper habits/oral hygiene techniques, etc.

Photo demonstrating slight gingival recession associated with thin tissue, aberrant frenum attachment and tartar build up.
Slight gingival recession caused by thin tissue, aberrant frenum (lip/muscle attachment), and tartar build up. If left untreated, recession is likely to continue.

The most important thing to treat gingival recession is to identify the factors predisposing or causing the recession and modifying them to prevent further recession in the future. Quite often, thin gum tissue in the area of the recession is a presdisposing factor for future recession. This is because thin gum tissue is delicate, friable, and prone to damage from everyday wear and tear. When this is the case, soft tissue augmentation is the treatment of choice. Donor tissue is obtained from either the patient from another area of the mouth (often the roof of the mouth) or from tissue bank, and the area is grafted to where the thin tissue needs to be augmented. The goal of the procedure would be to create thick gum tissue that is strong enough to withstand wear and tear and prevent further recession in the future.

Gums are thick and resistant to future recession. Aberrant frenum attachment has been removed. Exposed root has been covered.

In some cases, recession can cause a problem with esthetics because of exposed tooth roots. Treating the factors predisposing to gingival recession is still the primary goal of any soft tissue augmentation procedure. As a secondary goal, we can sometimes cover part or all of the exposed root during the procedure, but this is dependent on many things, such as the tooth position, underlying bony architecture, and gum levels of adjacent teeth.

Preventing further recession is important for many reasons. When gums recede, not only is soft tissue being lost, but the bone that should be covering and supporting the root is lost as well. When too much bone and tissue has receded, the teeth lose its support and can become loose. Teeth roots are not designed to be exposed to the oral cavity, and thus are less resistant to tooth decay and from normal wear and tear of daily function. Because of this, meticulous oral hygiene is necessary to prevent root decay, and fillings may be necessary to cover exposed roots. Root caries (decay of the tooth roots) is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in the elderly population, with over 30% of people over the age of 60 having at least one tooth with root decay.

Here at Orange Periodontics and Dental Implantology, our goal is to ensure the longevity and health of your gums and teeth. Our team has extensive experience managing gingival recession. Not all gingival recession needs to be surgically treated – quite often, close monitoring and instruction and feedback on oral hygiene techniques are more than enough to prevent future recession. When we do treat recession surgically, there are various treatment modalities and techniques we employ, including minimally invasive tunneling, the Pinhole Gum Rejuvenation, and VISTA. Schedule a consultation with us today!