What are gum grafts?

Gum grafts, also known as gingival grafts, are a type of dental surgery performed to correct receding gum. During a fast and relatively simple procedure, the periodontist is removing healthy gum tissue from the roof of the mouth, using it to fill the part of the mouth with new gum tissue where the current gum tissue is receding.

When gum graft surgery is necessary?

Some people choose to have a gum graft for cosmetic reasons, correcting small aesthetic faults in the line of the gum; while for others, a gum graft is necessary to protect teeth from further damage and repair any existing one.

The formation of the gum recession is a slow process, many people realize it only when it’s already showing signs. As the root of the tooth is exposed more, the most common first symptom of gum wear is increased sensitivity, especially during eating or drinking hot or cold foods. Immediate treatment is necessary, as untreated gum recession could eventually lead to tooth loss.

gum graft

What can cause gum recession?

  • Untreated periodontal disease
  • Long-term aggressive brushing
  • Wearing braces
  • Thin gum tissue
  • Smoking
  • Certain hormonal changes
  • Severe trauma to the mouth
  • Piercings

Options of gum graft

In case of necessity, there are a variety of gum grafts available. During a dental visit, our periodontist is going to explain the different types of surgeries available and set up a treatment plan with the most suitable option. The type of surgery undertaken depends on the extent and severity of existing damage considering the needs of every case individually.

With palatal tissue

This technique is the most frequently used one and involves obtaining a tissue sample from the patient’s own palate (donor area) and grafting it into the area to be treated.

Pedunculated gingival graft

Part of the gingiva near the area to be treated is lifted and a sample is taken from it, with the idea of stretching it and covering the periapical root. In this case, there is no donor area but it is the gum itself that protects the tooth that has been exposed.

Tunneling (“pinhole”)

Making micro access in the upper area of the gum and displacing this gingiva to the area to treat. This technique can be complemented with palatal tissue.

How a gum graft can help to the success of dental implant surgery?

One of the most important aspects of gum grafts, and in spite of that the one that is less often talked about, is their application to the success of implant surgery.

Gingiva is attached to deep levels, acting as a barrier to prevent the access of bacterias in the gum and transmitting it to the dental implant, which can that way become infected. As a start producing mucositis (infection and inflammation that affects only the gum, without reaching the bone, without bone loss) that can evolve to peri-implantitis, which can damage the bone that surrounds the dental implant. This in long term can also cause the loss of the dental implant.

The gingiva inserted around the dental implant is also essential to avoid inflammation and infection that can subsequently spread to the bone. In addition, a good volume of the gingiva around the dental implant is going to improve the final aesthetic results with the crown. This technique is especially recommended for implants in the front area.

The best way to control our oral health is through regular dental and professional hygiene controls, thus preventing situations that require surgical procedures of gum grafts.

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