Gum recession is a serious consequence of periodontal (gum) disease. As diseased gum tissues weaken and detach from the teeth, they may shrink back or recede from their normal coverage. Besides a less attractive smile, gum recession also places your teeth at greater risk of disease and eventual loss.
Removing dental plaque, the underlying cause for a gum infection, is the best way to stop gum disease and restore gum health. With mild recession, the gums may not require surgical treatment. With extensive gum recession, though, we may need to help these lost tissues regenerate through one of a number of surgical procedures known as gingival (gum) tissue grafting.
These procedures involve grafting donor tissue, either from another person or from the patient themselves, to the recession site. The graft serves as a scaffold upon which the patient's natural tissue cells can then grow. Over time, the new growth will absorb the graft and restore the gums to more complete coverage.
These microsurgical techniques are quite complex: They require specialized instruments and advanced surgical expertise. Although there are variations, most involve one of two different procedural types.
The first is known as free gingival grafting. With this technique, the surgeon removes a thin layer of tissue from the roof of the patient's mouth (palate) or from a similar tissue site. They then shape the donor tissue to fit the recession site before suturing it in place. Both the donor and transplant sites should heal within 2 to 3 weeks.
Another technique is known as connective tissue grafting. This is mostly used for covering exposed tooth roots and is thus more complex and intricate to perform than free grafting.
And last but not least, there is a technique called PinHole Surgery Technique. The remaining gum tissue is moved back onto the roots which have become exposed from recession. With the root surface being prepared to receive the new attachment of gum tissue, the tissue along with collagen is applied to the exposed roots.
Although these soft tissue grafting procedures may be more demanding and require extensive surgical skill, as well as extensive knowledge of both periodontal anatomy and aesthetics, the end result not only reduces the danger of tooth loss, but also improves your smile appearance.
If you would like more information on treatment for gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Periodontal Plastic Surgery.”