Periodontics is the dental specialty that deals with the hard and soft tissues that support teeth. Here at Holzinger Periodontics & Dental Implants, we know that gingival grafting can be a beneficial way to improve periodontal health. Gingival grafting, also called connective tissue or gum grafting, is a procedure done to reverse and/or combat future gum recession (the pulling away of gums from the teeth, primarily due to gum disease). The end goal is to regenerate enough gums to cover any exposed root surfaces, protecting teeth and helping to support the bone from further damage.
Gingival recession can result in unflattering root exposure and teeth that appear abnormally long. Gingival grafting can be used to cover most, if not all, of the recession that has occurred. Once the regenerated tissue has had time to heal and grow, the tooth will look and feel more natural, with a strong and healthy appearance.
The tough, pinkish tissue around your teeth is called gingiva. It forms a tight seal around the tooth, which helps to keep bacteria from growing in the pockets and helps to prevent recession that can result from that seal being broken. If you do not have sufficient gingiva, gingival grafting can help stop recession, reduce pain and sensitivity, improve tooth function, and enhance the overall appearance of your smile.
In some cases, your orthodontist may tell you that gingival grafting must be done before your orthodontic treatment. Attempting to move teeth into proper alignment with inadequate gum tissue can lead to further recession.
If you have gingival recession, you are at an increased risk for decay on the root surfaces. The tooth enamel, or the outer layer of the tooth, is white and is meant to be exposed to outside elements. The yellow layer, or dentin, is much softer than the enamel. Covering exposed roots can help reduce your risk of root decay.
When your roots are exposed you can have extreme sensitivities to hot, cold, or even touch. Drinking a hot cup of coffee, eating a cold bowl of ice cream, or just daily brushing could be very excruciating. Covering up exposed roots can reduce the pain and help relieve symptoms from everyday activity.
Gingival Graft Benefits
The rate of success in a gingival graft is very high, especially when patients are brushing properly. The four main benefits of gingival grafting are:
- strengthens and stabilizes the gum that covers the tooth
- protects the tooth against further recession
- decreases sensitivity in your teeth by covering and protecting the roots
- restores a confident and attractive smile
Gingival grafting is generally an outpatient procedure. We will give you specialized instructions on how to take care of your mouth postoperatively. Diet, physical activity, and medications can all aid in the healing process. It is important not to floss or brush the repaired gum tissue until it is fully healed. Soft foods, such as eggs, pasta, and yogurt, are important for a week or so following the procedure. Even though the healing process may take up to two weeks, you can generally return to work in a day or two after the procedure.