When recession of the gingiva occurs, the body loses a natural defense against both bacterial penetration and trauma. When gum recession is a problem, gum reconstruction using grafting techniques is an option.
When there is only minor recession, some healthy gingiva often remains and protects the tooth, so that no treatment other than modifying home care practices may be necessary.
However, when recession is deeper, or even reaches the thin, spongy tissue known as mucosa, the first line of defense against bacterial penetration is lost and grafting surgery may be needed to help prevent further recession. It’s important to understand that as gum recedes the underlying bone also recedes and teeth may become loose as a result of this bone loss. While not common to lose teeth due to recession, it does occur. Noticeable gum recession also makes it more difficult to keep teeth clean due to the discrepancy in height of gum from the face of the tooth to the gum between teeth or adjacent teeth, creating areas of food and plaque accumulation.
Gum recession can also lead to an unsightly smile as teeth appear longer and the gum line develops an uneven appearance from one tooth to the next.
In addition, gum recession often results in root sensitivity to hot and cold foods as well as an unsightly appearance of the gum and tooth. When significant, gum recession can predispose to worsening recession and expose the root surface, which is softer than enamel, leading to root caries and root gouging.
before and after gum grafting
A gingival graft is designed to solve these problems. A thin piece of tissue is taken from the roof of the mouth or gently moved over from adjacent areas to provide a stable band of attached gingiva around the tooth. The gingival graft may be placed in such a way as to cover the exposed portion of the root.
The gingival graft procedure is highly predictable and results in a stable, healthy band of attached tissue around the tooth.