Receding gum tissue exposes underlying bone that would normally be protected by the gums. Periodontal disease, decay, and the potential for tooth loss are the dental reasons to discuss a gum graft. And for many patients, the cosmetic enhancement enjoyed will help with the decision to proceed with treatment. Your periodontist will discuss the different options available:
Connective tissue grafts – With this procedure, a surgical flap is open in the roof of the patient’s mouth. Tissue is removed from beneath the flap and stitched to gum tissue to cover exposed bone. The flap is stitched closed. The patient may experience slight discomfort in the palate where skin was removed for a few days.
Free gingival grafts – In this treatment, the skin directly from the palate is used to cover the bony area tooth area. Several days of healing will follow.
Pedicle grafts – When the patient has gum tissue to spare from a neighboring tooth, an incision is made and gum tissue is pulled over and stitched in place.
It is not necessary for the patient to use their own tissue for gum grafting. Medically processed human tissue that has been donated can also be obtained from a tissue bank and used for grafting. In many cases this may be preferred by your periodontist over using your own tissue.
Healing can take several days; the patient will be advised to eat soft foods like scrambled eggs, yogurt, pudding, jello, and ice cream. The area around the graft should not be brushed until healing is completed. An antibacterial rinse may be prescribed.
While a number of patients may experience gum recession due to genetics, for many patients gum recession can be prevented:
Do not smoke or use tobacco in any form. Brush with a soft bristle toothbrush using a fluoridated toothpaste – avoid being over aggressive; teeth do not need to be scrubbed to prevent plaque build-up. An electric toothbrush is ideal as it will do all the work – just guide it around your mouth to reach the front, back, and tops of teeth. Most come with a timer to alert when you’ve brushed the recommended two minutes.
Floss daily to remove what your toothbrush missed. Watch your diet – limit sugary foods and beverages. Stay hydrated (drink water). And finally, see your dentist every six months (or as recommended) for cleaning and dental exam.
For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact the office of Dr. Duval today.