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Gum grafts

What is a gum graft?

A gum graft is a surgical procedure carried out by a periodontist. The purpose of a gum graft is to restore gums around teeth and their roots. It also serves to curtail gingival recession and prevent further loosening of teeth. A gum graft is an effective solution that treats more than just cosmetic problems.

Understanding gingival recession

Gingival recession is a very common problem where gums shrink. As they gradually thin out and recede, the gums no longer provide adequate coverage, exposing dental roots.

This leads to unpleasant sensitivity to hot, cold, sweet or acidic foods. Exposed roots are also more susceptible to cavities. In severe cases, the gums can no longer properly support teeth, which may become loose and even fall out.

Gingival recession also affects your smile. When gums recede, your teeth appear abnormally long. It is important to curtail this problem as soon as possible because mild cases are much easier to treat.

Symptoms:

  • Tooth sensitivity (heat, contact)
  • Visible dental roots
  • Cavities on roots
  • Loose teeth
  • Loss of teeth

Risk factors:

Some people are more likely to develop gingival recession than others.

  • Naturally thinner gums in some areas
  • Dental malpositions
  • Excessive, vigorous brushing or improper brushing technique
  • Involuntary teeth grinding and gritting (bruxism)
  • Inadequate dental restorations
  • Orthodontic treatments
  • Gum disease, periodontitis

Gingival recession is irreversible. To restore the gums and curtail further loosening of the teeth, the dentist must perform a gum graft.

How it’s done

There are two types of grafts.

Traditional autogenous grafts

The patient is administered anaesthesia and the affected area is prepped to receive the new tissue. A thin layer of conjunctive tissue is removed from the palate. Then, it is carefully placed on the retracted gum and sutured.

To promote healing, a bandage is applied on the grafted area. The palate will then begin regenerating and heal significantly in the next 15 to 21 days. It will take about six months to heal completely.

The graft, which is composed of strong keratinized tissue, provides increased stability to the affected area and protects it from further gingival recession.

Because the graft comes from the patient, integration and healing are quick. Since the tissue is not rejected, the success rate is excellent. However, the area on the palate where the tissue was removed will remain sensitive for some time. Also, the possible lengths of grafts are limited.

Allogenic grafts (AlloDerm)

Allogenic grafts are an interesting alternative to traditional grafts because the tissue isn’t taken from the patient’s palate. Instead, the AlloDerm graft comes from a human donor. The donated tissue is processed to create a regenerative tissue matrix made of collagen. This type of graft stimulates the self-healing process of the patient’s tissue.

The procedure is the same as with a traditional graft. The graft is sutured to the affected area to restore the gums around the teeth. Once healing is complete, any dental sensitivity will be gone and the gums will be stable again. Since allogenic grafts don’t use tissue from the palate, they are less painful.

Advantages

  • No tissue is removed from the palate, eliminating potential complications and pain
  • Cosmetically appealing results
  • Excellent success rate

Prevention

Gum disease, which often causes teeth to become loose, can be very insidious as it is painless at first. If it isn’t diagnosed and treated in time, the consequences of gum disease can be very detrimental. Learning how to brush your teeth gently will protect your gums. Regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings will keep them healthy.

Call your dentist if you have sensitive teeth or if some teeth appear longer due to thinner gums.