Gum recession: the loss of gums and surrounding tissues supporting the teeth, which can have countless effects on a person’s dental health, overall health, and self-esteem. Fortunately, there is a fix:
Soft tissue grafting.
Today, we’re going to take a look at soft tissue grafts and the reasons for getting one. In this post, you’ll learn:
- What is a soft tissue graft
- How to detect gum disease
- How to determine if you may need a soft tissue graft
- The benefits of a soft tissue graft
Read on to find out!
What Is a Soft Tissue Graft?
A soft tissue graft (also called gum graft or gingival graft) is a restorative procedure used to mitigate gum loss. Soft tissue is taken from the patient’s palate or from a donor (more on that below), which is then grafted onto the affected area, creating a stable band of gingiva around the teeth and soft tissue.
A gum graft can be performed on one tooth, several teeth, or across all teeth. It can be used either to restore an uneven gum line (i.e., from gum recession) or to repair exceptionally thin gums. In either case, the graft will create an even thickness of gum, with enough support around each tooth to prevent them from loosening.
Gum grafts have a high rate of success with very high rates of patient satisfaction. They remain the best option for patients whose gums have receded.
Your Options for Gum Grafts
The soft tissue for the gum graft can come from two different places. The most common source is from the patient’s mouth. The surgeon extracts a small amount of tissue from the palate, which can then be placed anywhere on the patient’s gumline.
The second option is to take the tissue from a donor. This procedure—called an allograft—makes for an attractive alternative because it is less invasive.
Recent advances have made allografts considerably more effective and reliable, with far more predictable outcomes. Still, most surgeons will recommend using the patient’s palate for the grafting tissue. When deciding, it’s best to speak to your surgeon to see what they think. Here at Dr. Suzanne Caudry’s, we develop individualized treatment plans based on the patient’s needs, the size of the graft, and the patient’s own input.
3 Signs That a Gum Graft Is Right for You
You may benefit from a gum graft if you exhibit any of the symptoms below:
1. Exposed Roots
Are your teeth looking a little longer lately? They’re not growing—just more’s showing. Your gums should usually protect the roots of your teeth. If your teeth look longer or are feeling a bit more sensitive to temperature, your tooth roots may be exposed. And if you have exposed tooth roots, you may very well benefit from a gum graft.
2. Visible Cementum
One of the most tell-tale signs that your roots are exposed is when you can see cementum. Cementum is the natural material that covers your roots. It’s light yellow in colour, and it’s slightly softer than the enamel that covers the crown of your tooth. It’s also easily visible when it’s exposed: You’ll see a noticeable difference in colour between the base of your tooth (yellow) and the top of your tooth (whiter). If you see yellow at the bottom, that’s cementum. And that’s when you know your gums may have receded.
3. Thin, Translucent Gums
Not all grafts are for a receding gum line. In many cases, a surgeon will recommend a gum graft if the gums are overly thin and weak, even if they haven’t drooped. The reason is that they still may not provide the support that your teeth need to stay healthy. Thin gums are fragile, and they’re more likely to recede. Many patients also find them less attractive than full, healthy gums.
Thin gums are usually translucent, sensitive, and sometimes inflamed. If you’re worried, speak to your dentist to see what they say.
What Can a Gum Graft Do for Me?
A gum graft can provide numerous benefits to patients showing the above symptoms. Those benefits include:
- Less root decay
- Reduced tooth sensitivity
- Healthier gums
- Less chance of future gum recession
- Bone loss prevention
- A better, more confident smile
Wondering If a Gum Graft Is Right for You?
Dr. Caudry Is Here to Help!
Dr. Caudry is one of Toronto’s leading periodontal surgeons. With over 30 years of experience, she has dedicated her life to the practice, study, and application of dentistry, and she continues to advance the field in innovative, cutting-edge ways. If you’re in the area and you think you need a gum graft, you’ll find no better practitioner than her.
To schedule a consultation, don’t hesitate to contact us by phone or email. We’re here to help.