When you smile in the mirror, sometimes it can look as though your teeth have grown longer. Unfortunately, for most people, this is not the case. In fact, your gumline is getting shorter. Gum recession can happen for a number of reasons, and one of the fixes is often a gum graft. A gum graft is a quick procedure that any of our dentists at Delaware Periodontics can perform for you.
Why Do Gums Recede?
The most common reason the gumline recedes is because of an advanced stage of gum disease. As disease progresses, the bone that holds the teeth and supports the gum is destroyed. The gums can shrink down with the bone loss leaving the roots exposed.
This causes your gumline to grow smaller and smaller. Without gums to protect them, the roots of your teeth can be exposed as well, leading to pain and swelling. Additional symptoms include pain while eating, tooth sensitivity, and tooth loss.
Types of Gum Grafts
There are several types of gum grafts, depending on your needs. Once we assess your situation, we will recommend one of these types based on your needs.
The first method is connective-tissue grafts. This type of graft is one that focuses on covering up root exposure. We cut off a flap of skin from your palate and remove connective tissue from it. Once we have enough of the tissue, we will combine the flap surface with a connective tissue graft. We harvest tissue from the roof of the mouth. The graft is secured covering the exposed root surface and the flap is repositioned. This provides a double blood supply to the graft and allows it to adhere to the root surface.
Gingival grafts are another one where tissue from the roof of the mouth is used. But instead of removing only part of the flap, this graft works differently. We remove a small amount of tissue from the roof of the mouth, and then that is attached to the gums to enlarge them. This graft is used to provide patients with hard keratinized gum tissue which can be lacking and is a major cause of recession. This is more of an exposed graft primarily designed to change the tissue type and not cover exposed roots. This graft can change thin movable mucosal tissue to thick hard attached tissue and prevent further loss from occurring.
Finally, there is the allograft treatment. This is the same as a connective tissue graft but uses donor tissue rather than your own.
Your mouth will be numbed with local anesthesia. The procedure is relatively quick; usually 20-40 minutes. Once completed there is usually a protective cover or bandage placed so that you are able to go about your daily life. Platelet-rich growth factors are often used to speed up soft tissue healing, reduce pain and infection and return patients to normal faster.
Once at home, you will have to eat cold and soft foods to make sure the graft is not damaged. It is also important to not smoke, eat sticky candy, or use straws until you are completely healed. However, after the healing process is over, every time you smile, you will see your new mouth and the new gums that are where they are supposed to be.
If you need a gum graft for a cosmetic or medical reason, then please contact Delaware Periodontics at 302-551-3553 today. We will be able to walk you through what type of gum graft is needed for your mouth and get you scheduled to begin getting it!