Soft Tissue Grafting & Recession
At Dr. Todd Jones Periodontics and Implant Dentistry our periodontist offers soft tissue grafting to help combat the symptoms of gum recession and improve the overall appearance of our Victoria patient's smiles.
What are Gum Recession & Soft Tissue Grafting?
Gingival recession (receding gums) refers to the progressive loss of gum tissue, which can eventually result in tooth root exposure if left untreated. Gum recession is most common in adults over the age of 40, but the process can begin in the teenage years.
Gum recession can be difficult to self-diagnose in its earlier stages because the changes often occur asymptomatically and gradually. Regular dental check ups will help to prevent gum recession and assess risk factors.
Soft Tissue Grafting
Soft tissue grafting can be used to combat gum recession. Periodontal disease, trauma, aging, over brushing, and poor tooth positioning are the leading causes of gum recession which can lead to tooth root exposure in severe cases.
Exposed tooth roots may make eating hot and cold foods uncomfortable, and decay more prevalent. This can also negatively impact the aesthetic appearance of the smile. Soft tissue grafting can be used to cover the exposed root or thicken the existing gum tissue to help reduce sensitivity and improve the appearance of the gums.
The three common soft tissue grafts include:
- Free Gingival Graft
A strip of tissue is removed from the roof of the mouth and stitched to the grafting site in order to promote natural growth. This type of graft is most commonly used for thickening existing tissue.
- Connective Tissue Graft
For larger areas or root exposure, subepithelial tissue is needed to remedy the problem. This subepithelial connective tissue is removed from a small flap in the mouth and sutured to the grafting site. This is the most common treatment for root exposure.
- Pedicle Graft
This type of graft involves the “sharing” of soft tissue between the affected site and adjacent gum. A flap of tissue is partially cut away and moved sideways to cover the root. The results of this type of graft are excellent because the tissue that is moved to the adjacent area includes blood vessels that are left in place.
Gum recession is an incredibly widespread problem that dentists diagnose and treat on a daily basis. It is important to thoroughly examine the affected areas and make an accurate diagnosis of the actual underlying problem. Once the cause of the gum recession has been determined, surgical and non-surgical procedures can be performed to halt the progress of the recession and prevent it from occurring in the future.
Patients suffering from gum recession can experience tooth sensitivity, bad breath, inflammation, bleeding, or teeth that look longer giving them a 'toothy smile'
The most common Causes of gum recession include:
- Overagressive Brushing
Over-brushing can almost be as dangerous to the gums as too little. Brushing too hard or brushing with a hard-bristled toothbrush can erode the tooth enamel at the gum line and irritate/inflame gum tissue.
- Poor Oral Hygiene
When brushing and flossing are performed improperly or not at all, a plaque build up can begin to affect the teeth. The plaque contains various bacterial toxins which can promote infection and erode the underlying jawbone.
- Chewing Tobacco
Any kind of tobacco use has devastating effects on the entire oral cavity, chewing tobacco in particular. It aggravates the gingival lining of the mouth and causes gum recession when used continuously.
- Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease can be a result of improper oral hygiene or caused by systemic diseases such as diabetes. The excess sugars in the mouth and narrowed blood vessels experienced by diabetics create a perfect environment for oral bacteria. The bacterium causes an infection which progresses deeper and deeper into the gum and bone tissue, eventually resulting in tooth loss.
The Soft Tissue Grafting Process
The grafting procedure will typically be performed under local anesthetic, following a deep cleaning above and below the gumline.
A small incision will be made at the recipient site in order to create a small pocket. A split thickness incision is made in this pocket and the donor tissue is placed between the two sections of this area.
Platelet rich growth factors to help stimulate natural tissue growth and promote good healing may be applied before suturing, and tissue-stimulating proteins may be added to encourage quicker tissue growth.
The wound site will then be sutured, and surgical material will be placed to protect the sensitive area. Gum uniformity and substantial healing will take place in the first six weeks after the procedure.
Treatment for Gum Recession
Every case of gum recession is slightly different, therefore the issue which caused the recession needs to be addressed first.
If overly aggressive brushing is eroding the gums, a softer toothbrush and a gentler brushing technique should be used.
When poor oral hygiene is a problem, professional dental cleaning may be recommended to rid the gum pockets of debris and bacteria.
In the case of a severe tartar build-up, scaling and root planing may be performed to heal gingival inflammation and clean the teeth.
Once the cause of the gum recession has been addressed, cosmetic or restorative surgeries may be recommended. Gum tissue regeneration and gum grafting are two ways to help restore natural symmetry to the gums and make the smile look more aesthetically pleasing.
Soft Tissue Grafting Options
Today, grafting materials such as Allografts may be used in place of your own tissue, with no additional surgery required. Allografts are tissue grafting materials made from donated tissue. The result is a safe, biocompatible tissue, used for over 35 years and in more than three million procedures.