Gum Recession and Grafting

Gingival recession (receding gums) refers to the progressive loss of gum tissue, which can eventually result in tooth root exposure if left untreated. Gum recession is most common in adults over the age of 40, but the process can begin in the teenage years.

Gum recession can be difficult to self-diagnose in its earlier stages because the changes often occur asymptomatically and gradually. Regular dental checkups will help to prevent gum recession and assess risk factors.

The following symptoms may be indicative of gum recession:

  • Sensitive teeth – When the gums recede enough to expose the cementum, which is a layer protecting the tooth root, the dentin tubules beneath will become more susceptible to external stimuli.
  • Visible roots – This is one of the main characteristics of a more severe case of gum recession.
  • Longer-looking teeth – Individuals experiencing gingival recession often have a “toothy” smile. The length of the teeth is perfectly normal, but the gum tissue has been lost, making the teeth appear longer.
  • Halitosis, inflammation, and bleeding – These symptoms are characteristic of gingivitis or periodontal disease. A bacterial infection causes the gums to recede from the teeth and may cause tooth loss if not treated promptly.

Gum Grafting

A gum graft (also known as a gingival graft or periodontal plastic surgery) is a collective name for surgical periodontal procedures that aim to cover an exposed tooth root surface with grafted oral tissue. Gum grafting is a gum treatment in Royersford, Pennsylvania, that our knowledgeable periodontist, may recommend if you suffer from gum recession.

Exposed tooth roots are usually the result of gingival recession due to periodontal disease. There are other common causes, including overly aggressive brushing and trauma.

Here are some of the most common types of gum grafting:

  • Free gingival graft – This procedure is often used to thicken gum tissue. A layer of tissue is removed from the palate and relocated to the area affected by gum recession. Both sites will quickly heal without permanent damage.
  • Subepithelial connective tissue graft – This procedure is commonly used to cover exposed roots. Tissue is removed fairly painlessly from the side of the palate and relocated to the site of gum recession.
  • Acellular dermal matrix allograft – This procedure uses medically processed, donated human tissue as a tissue source for the graft. The advantage of this is procedure is that there is no need for a donor site from the patient’s palate (and thus, less pain).

Pocket Reduction “Osseous Surgery”

Pocket reduction surgery (also known as gingivectomy, osseous surgery, and flap surgery) is a collective term for a series of several different surgeries aimed at gaining access to the roots of the teeth in order to remove bacteria and tartar (calculus).

The human mouth contains dozens of different bacteria at any given time. The bacteria found in plaque (the sticky substance on teeth) produce acids that lead to demineralization of the tooth surface and ultimately contribute to periodontal disease.

Periodontal infections cause a chronic inflammatory response in the body that literally destroys bone and gum tissues once they invade the subgingival area (below the gum line). Gum pockets form and deepen between the gums and teeth as the tissue continues to be destroyed.

Periodontal disease is a progressive condition which, if left untreated, causes massive bacteria colonization in gum pockets and can eventually lead to teeth falling out. Pocket reduction surgery is an attempt to alleviate this destructive cycle and reduce the depth of the bacteria-harboring pockets.