The process of soft tissue grafting is frequently used to combat gum recession. Gum recession is often caused by over-brushing, periodontal disease, trauma, aging, and poor tooth positioning. When the roots of the teeth are exposed, decay is more frequent, it can be uncomfortable eating hot and cold foods, and the aesthetic appearance of the smile is negatively altered. Soft tissue grafting either covers the exposed roots or thickens the gum tissue to halt further tissue loss.
The most common types of tissue grafts are:
- Free gingival graft: A strip of tissue is removed from the roof of the mouth and attached to the grafting site to encourage growth. Commonly used to thicken existing tissue.
- Connective tissue graft: In which soft tissue between the affected site and the adjacent gum is “shared.” A flap of tissue is partially repositioned and moved sideways to cover the root. Since the moved tissue contains blood vessels, this kind of graft provides excellent results.
The soft tissue grafting process is extremely versatile, and due to recent developments in dental technology, these procedures are less invasive and more predictable. Some of the primary benefits are:
- Increased comfort: Root exposure can cause substantial pain, and make eating hot or cold foods a challenge. Soft tissue grafts cover the exposed root to create good health for the exposed area and reduce sensitivity.
- Improved aesthetics: Gum recession can create a “toothy” smile, or make teeth appear uneven in size. Through soft tissue grafting, gums can be re-augmented to make the smile look more symmetrical.
- Improved Gum Health: When periodontal disease strikes, soft tissue is destroyed extremely quickly. With soft tissue grafting, along with deep cleaning procedures, the process can be halted, and exposed roots can be protected from additional issues.
The process involves initial deep cleaning above and below the gum line in order to clear tartar from the teeth and roots. Then, under local anesthetic, the grafting procedure will take place. An incision is made at the site creating a small pocket. A split thickness incision is then made in the pocket, and the donor tissue is placed between the two section. Natural factors, such as platelet-rich growth factors, may be applied to the area to augment the healing process. The site will be sutured to prevent shifting, and surgical material will be applied to protect the area.
The healing process usually takes approximately 6 weeks.