Gum Grafting and periodontal regeneration

When recession of the gingiva occurs, the body loses a natural defense against both bacterial penetration and trauma. When gum recession is a problem, gum reconstruction using grafting techniques is an option.

A common question asked is:
“How Do I Prevent My Gums From Receding?”

Well, the answer is to find why are the gums receding. Usually, it is a combination of factors such as:

  • Thin gum tissue (some patients have thin gum tissue, some have thick gum tissue)
  • Malpositioning of the tooth on the arch (either naturally or through orthodontic treatment)
  • Plaque induced gingival inflammation
  • Traumatic brushing
  • Aging
  • Muccogingingival deformities

When there is only a minor recession, some healthy gingiva often remains and protects the tooth, so that no treatment other than modifying home care practices is necessary. However, when recession reaches the mucosa or when the exposed root becomes decayed, the problem needs to be corrected.

In addition, gum recession often results in root sensitivity to hot and cold foods as well as an unsightly appearance of the gum and tooth. When significant, gum recession can predispose to worsening recession and expose the root surface, which is softer than enamel, leading to root caries and root gouging.

Also, keep in mind that as the gum recedes, the bone recedes as well! The good news is that it has been shown that covering an exposed root with a full mouth gum graft will also regenerate some of the periodontium (that is bone, cementum, and the periodontal ligament), especially if we use a periodontal regenerative product such as Emdogain.

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The next question is: “What can be done to correct the problem?”

A gingival graft is designed to solve and correct those problems.

Depending on the situation, we can use the patient’s own tissue, called an autograft : a thin piece of tissue is taken from the roof of the mouth by creating one incision and closing it after, leaving no exposed wound open or gently moved over from adjacent areas to provide a stable band of attached gingiva around the tooth.

We can also use a tissue coming from human donors, called an allograft: It is usually a piece of sub-layer of human skin. Dr Gallez has used Alloderm since 2002 and Perioderm more recently with excellent results. Alloderm or Perioderm are great options especially when we have multiple areas that need grafting in one appointment.

The gingival graft procedure is highly predictable and results in a stable, healthy band of attached tissue around the tooth.