Gum grafting is a dental procedure that is carried out with the purpose of restoring gums that have receded away from the teeth as a result of the patient suffering from periodontal disease. In doing so, patients will enjoy a more natural and even gum line, greater protection of the roots of their teeth, and greater stability of their teeth within the gums.
How does periodontal disease cause gum recession?
Gum recession is one of the later symptoms of periodontal disease, that tends to occur when the condition is fairly well advanced. The gums play a very important role in supporting our teeth, with their structure helping to secure them in their sockets and the seal of our gums against them preventing bacteria and debris from entering the roots and causing decay.
Periodontal disease occurs when bacteria present on the teeth (through lack of adequate brushing), makes its way onto the gum tissue where it causes irritation and inflammation. If not treated at this stage, the infection can become severe enough to cause the gum tissue to be destroyed. This causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, creating pockets where they would normally adhere closely to them. Known as periodontal pockets, these gaps are ideal for trapping more debris and bacteria, enabling the root of the tooth to become decayed and infected too. Tooth loss is inevitable if treatment isn’t sought.
At this stage, most patients will need a procedure known as scaling and root planing, which is a deep clean of the affected teeth, including the root area, which is then roughed up so that the gums can reattach to them. However, if your gums have receded considerably, gum grafting may be recommended to close the gap.
What is involved in gum grafting?
There are several different types of a gum graft, and your dentist will be able to recommend the most appropriate solution based on your individual needs. These are:
Connective tissue grafts: the most common, this is where the new gum tissue is taken from a flap of tissue on the palate which is on the roof of the mouth. It is then attached to the necessary areas using sutures.
Free gingival grafts: Similar to connective tissue grafts, the tissue used in these is taken directly from the palate (with no flap created).
Gum grafting is carried out using a local anesthetic, and sedation may be available should it be needed. Once the tissue has been grafted onto the gums, they may be packed with dressing for a short while to kick-start the healing process. Invariably, these dressings can’t be worn for more than a few hours as you will need to eat and drink. Therefore, you will be advised that you can remove them so long as you follow the aftercare instructions provided by your gum grafting surgical team. This will include advice on what you can eat and drink and how to take care of the incision site.
Am I a good candidate for gum grafting?
If you have visibly receding gums, it is very likely that you will be a good candidate for gum grafting. However, before you can have the procedure you will need to attend a consultation where your dentist will determine if it is the most suitable solution for your needs. It may be necessary to carry out other dental work to ensure that your teeth, mouth, and gums are as healthy as possible before you can have the surgery. You will also be advised to stop smoking since this can increase your risk of experiencing complications and compromise the success of your procedure.
If your teeth look longer than normal and you are concerned that your gums may be receding, don’t delay in seeking professional support. Contact our offices today to schedule a consultation to assess your teeth and smile.