Gum recession, or root exposure, is characterized by visible tooth roots, sensitivity to cold or touch, and, in extreme cases, loose teeth. Your gums may have receded for a variety of reasons, including aggressive tooth brushing or periodontal disease. Soft tissue grafts can be used to cover roots or to develop gum tissue where absent due to gingival recession.
Gum grafts can be used to cover roots or to develop gum tissue where absent due to excessive gingival recession. During gum graft surgery, your periodontist takes gum tissue from your palate or another donor source to cover the exposed root. This can be done for one tooth or several teeth to even your gum line and reduce sensitivity.
Autogenous Tissue Graft
A soft tissue graft can be performed utilizing tissue from your own palate (autogenous tissue). During this procedure, a small incision is made in the roof of your mouth so the graft can be procured and transferred to the recipient site over the exposed root surface. Once removed, the palatal site is closed with a small suture and covered with an acrylic retainer similar to an orthodontic retainer. This works well to protect the area from irritation while eating for the first few days. Your body will fill this area back in with new tissue rather quickly, leaving no evidence of the procedure ever being performed.
Allogenic Tissue Graft
An allogenic tissue graft is performed in the same manner as an autogenous tissue graft (palatal tissue), except for the palatal donor site. A very safe and effective donor tissue is available that can be substituted for palatal tissue. This material, AlloDerm®, is a dermal matrix processed from donated human tissue following guidelines set forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and American Association of Tissue Banks. It is processed in such a manner that all of the cellular components are removed, leaving it as a tissue scaffold. Once implanted, your cells and blood vessels will grow into the material, turning it you’re your own tissue within 14 days. This method is less invasive and causes the patient less discomfort than an autogenous tissue graft.
What are the benefits of gum graft surgery?
A gum graft can reduce further recession and bone loss. In some cases, it can cover exposed roots to protect them from decay. This may reduce tooth sensitivity and improve esthetics of your smile. Whether you have a gum graft to improve function or esthetics, patients often receive the benefits of both: a beautiful new smile and improved periodontal health – your keys to smiling, eating, and speaking with comfort and confidence.
How long will it take for my mouth to heal?
During the healing, soft tissue shrinks a little and edema (swelling) goes down. Soft tissue binds the underlying root surface and neighboring bone surface and starts to mature. The most important aspect of this healing is the formation of new vessels that will bring the blood supply into newly grafted soft tissue (angiogenesis). Again, wound stability is very important for the newly-forming blood supply (vascularization).
Soft tissue generally takes 2-4 weeks to return to normal. Healing time depends on how closely the patient follows post-operative instructions and how careful they are with the surgical site following treatment.