A gum graft is necessary to protect the roots of your teeth after gum recession, which is when the tissues around your teeth literally begin to pull away or recede from the tooth. Gum recession can become extremely painful as more and more of your tooth, followed by your root–becomes exposed. Eventually, gum recession can cause extensive damage to your bone structure, and actually result in tooth loss. The reason for gum recession is varied. One of the more common cases we see are in the lower anterior teeth of young adults who have had braces. Their lower anterior teeth are straight but the roots have been pushed through the outer plate of bone, leading to gum recession.
In older adults, gum recession is a gradual process that stems from advanced stages of gum disease. Approximately 5 to12 percent of American adults have this problem, and many of the cases often go unnoticed until it becomes so severe it is difficult to NOT notice or when the area becomes painful. The individual may begin to suffer from extreme sensitivity, an unattractive smile and root erosion. However, to prevent any of this from occurring, you can repair the damage and prevent future problems with a simple procedure:
The Gum or Gingival Graft
What to Expect:
There are four common types of gum tissue grafts that can be performed. Which type is the correct one for you depends on your specific needs.
- The Connective Tissue Graft, which is the most common graft, is used to treat root exposure. This procedure involves moving a small section of skin from beneath the palate (the roof of your mouth) and using that tissue to help your gums become thicker and support your teeth more solidly. We also often use tissue bank graft material, which is extremely safe and foregoes the need for a second surgery site from the roof of your mouth. Platelet Rich Plasma is used with all our grafting procedures for much faster healing and significantly less discomfort.
- The Free Gingival Graft is similar to the Connective Tissue Graft in that it uses tissue from the palate. However, instead of using tissue from beneath the flap, this process uses a small amount of tissue that is removed directly from the surface of the palate. This method is generally used to support and thicken naturally thin gums.
- The Pedicle Graft is used only on patients who have plenty of gum tissue near the tooth. This procedure uses tissue from existing gum around or near the tooth that needs repair. It is done in such a way that the tissue remains partially attached, and only needs to be pulled down to cover the exposed root, and then suture it into place. This procedure is used most often for a patient with a single tooth defect and excellent adjacent gum tissue next to the area of concern.
- The Pin Hole Graft with Platelet Rich Fibrin uses condensed Platelet Rich Plasma membranes and connective tissue inserted under the gum through a very tiny incision. The gum tissue around the teeth is elevated carefully and a tunnel is created below the area where gum recession has occurred. Then the PRP membrane is inserted into the tunnel with small fragments of connective tissue graft materal to support the gum position covering the recession. Sometimes very small sutures are placed under the gum to help the gum to heal in a more normal position and to cover exposed root surfaces. This is also know as the “pin hole graft” because the access incisions are small. It is the newest approach with the least amount of invasiveness and the least amount of postoperative discomfort and swelling.