The term gum grafting refers to a set of surgical periodontal procedures aimed at covering exposed surfaces of tooth root with grafted gum tissue. Gum grafting is also known periodontal plastic surgery or gingival graft. Gingival recession due to periodontal diseases results in exposed tooth root surfaces. Other common causes include, overly aggressive brushing with hard brush and trauma. Some of the common categories of gum grafting are covered below:
Free gingival graft. The procedure is used to thicken the gum tissue. The affected area is treated by removing and relocating a layer of tissue from the palate. Both these sites usually heal quickly without any permanent damage.
Subepithelial connective tissue graft. Exposed tooth root surfaces are covered using this procedure. Again tissue from the outer layout of palate is removed and relocated to the area affected due to gum recession.
Acellular dermal matrix allograft. This procedure makes use of donated human tissue (medically processed) as a source of the graft tissue. The simple advantage is since there is no need to remove tissue from patient’s own palate there is comparatively less pain.
Major benefits of gum grafting procedure:
Reduced sensitivity. Exposed tooth roots have higher sensitivity to hot or cold drinks/foods. The grafts permanently cover the exposed tooth root, thereby reducing the discomfort.
Improved appearance. Gum recession and inflammation are the common symptoms of Periodontal diseases. The recessed gums lead to root exposure making the teeth look longer than normal. This affects the smile making it appear “toothy”. The graft covers the exposed tooth and makes it look shorter, more symmetrical and usually more aesthetically pleasing to look at. Additionally the adjacent tissue can be enhanced for aesthetic purposes.
Improved gum health. Since Periodontal disease is progressive in nature, it can, over time, destroy gum tissue rapidly. Untreated gum diseases can cause large amounts of gum tissue to be lost. Gum grafting procedure helps in halting tissue and bone loss.
What does gum grafting treatment involve?
Gum grafting procedure involves several steps. First, the teeth need to be thoroughly cleaned to remove plaque, calculus (tartar) and bacteria buildup. The dentist will also recommend proper home care techniques and might also provide literature to help you take better care of the teeth.
The procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia and exact steps vary based onwhether tissue is sourced from the patient’s own palate or external tissue bank.
The process usually begins with small incisions made at at the recipient site to accommodate the graft. Then a split thickness incision is made and the connective graft tissue is then inserted into the space created between the two sections. The graft tissue is normally a bit larger than the receded area, so some excess tissue will be noticeable.
Sutures are often placed to further stabilize the graft and to prevent any shifting from the designated site. Surgical material is used to protect the surgical area during the first week of healing. Uniformity and healing of the gums will be achieved in approximately six weeks.