Gum Tissue Grafting
Do you have receding gums? Many patients come to us because they’ve noticed their gums receding, or their hygienist has pointed it out to them during their cleanings and recommended they see a periodontist for a Gum Tissue Graft.
As we always tell our patients, not every tooth with receding gums needs a gum graft. But some situations can cause uncomfortable tooth sensitivity or pain if the remaining gum is very fragile.
Sometimes receding gums cause no pain at all, but it can be a big problem if the gum recedes too far and the tooth becomes loose – or in worsening cases – the tooth can be lost altogether. In these situations, a gum tissue graft can help save the tooth & provide health for years to come.
Our periodontists are specialists who possess expertise in correcting receding gum lines. They give their patients a better chance at keeping their teeth for a lifetime.
Or in cases where the gums are receding on the front teeth – it can greatly help enhance the smile with a simple procedure.
Gum Tissue Grafting:
We often tell patients – the gum is like the skin. It’s the first line of defense against keeping harmful stuff out, like bacteria, plaque, food debris, and tartar. When a gum tissue recession occurs, the body loses its first line of natural defense against bacteria and against things like tooth brushing trauma.
When the recession is minimal (1-2mm), some healthy tissue often protects the tooth and underlying structures. In most cases, no treatment other than modifying your home care techniques is needed.
When the tissue has receded more than 2mm, often the first line of defense is gone. It is at this point where Gum Tissue Grafting is considered.
A gum tissue graft is a procedure where a thin piece of tissue is obtained from either the roof of the mouth, or a donor graft can often be used for simpler healing.
The graft is then placed in tissue recession to help strengthen the gums and prevent further damage and recession
Goals of Gum Tissue Grafting:
We always say there are 2 goals to gum grafting:
- Provide a stronger, thicker band of gum tissue that attaches to the tooth root. This protects the tooth and helps prevent further recession or damage. This is the main goal of gum grafting.
- The second goal is what we refer to as a “bonus goal,” and that is Root Coverage. Sometimes the tooth can obtain lovely root coverage. Other times it cannot if there is not enough bone surrounding the tooth to act as a “curtain rod” to support the gum graft.
At a Glance
Common causes and situations where Gum Tissue Grafting might be an option:
Causes of Gum Recession
- Lack of strong gum tissue. Sometimes a person is just born with thin gums that wear out over time.
- Plaque build-up and the presence of Periodontal Disease
- Using a medium or hard toothbrush in the past and overly aggressive home care practices like hard flossing.
- Orthodontic treatment in the past
- Trauma to the gums
- Use of cigarettes or other tobacco products
- Genetics or a family history of gum disease
Why is it important to treat recession?
- To replace the body’s natural defense against bacterial invasion and damage to the teeth.
- Prevent root sensitivity
- Correct an unattractive smile
- Repair a loss of supporting bone and reduce the mobility of the tooth
- Prevent tooth decay
- Reduce the risk of future recession and tooth loss
Having strong, healthy gums is important for life with healthy teeth. If you or your hygienist are concerned about receding gums, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’d be happy to consult with you and help you to understand if you’re a good candidate for gum grafting and what the options and alternatives may be for you.
- When there is a cavity or a crack in the tooth that goes deep under the gum, the crown needs to be lengthened to fix the tooth. We call this Functional Crown Lengthening.
- Or when a patient has a “Gummy Smile” and would like to have less gum tissue when smiling and expose their longer beautiful teeth hiding underneath. We call this Cosmetic Crown Lengthening.
Functional Crown Lengthening
Sometimes a cavity, filling, or crack in the tooth can extend deep under the gums where a dentist can’t reach, or a crown can’t fit healthily. Or sometimes, the tooth breaks off at the gum line, and there’s not enough tooth structure left for the dentist to repair it. In these cases, your dentist may refer you to a Periodontist for a procedure called Crown Lengthening.
Crown Lengthening is a tooth-saving effort where the periodontist removes a small amount of gum and jaw bone around the tooth, exposing more of the tooth and root, effectively “lengthening” it. This gives the dentist more access and tooth structure to repair the tooth and give it a longer life.
Many patients will ask themselves, “is it worth it? Why don’t I take out the tooth?” This is an option, but at Periodontal Specialists, we believe that maintaining your natural teeth leads to a happy, healthy quality of life. There are bridges & implants to replace a missing space, but none of these things are as good as your natural teeth. If you’re a good candidate for crown lengthening, it’s always worth trying to save your natural tooth.
We know a procedure can sound scary, but crown lengthening is a simple procedure with very little discomfort when performed by a specialist like Dr. Wolfe or Dr. Johnson, who often perform this procedure.
During Functional Crown Lengthening, your periodontist will reduce the length of the gums so that the appropriate amount of tooth is visible in the mouth and accessible to your dentist for repair.
We usually accomplish this by gently reflecting the gum tissue away from the tooth, moving it to the appropriate level, and then adding some tiny dissolvable stitches to keep the gums in place as they heal over the next few days.
This procedure is small and can be done with local anesthetic (novocaine) only. It will make you more comfortable, and bring a driver with a light anti-anxiety pill — what we call oral conscious sedation.
If your dentist refers you for Functional Crown Lengthening, Dr. Wolfe or Dr. Johnson will meet with you, perform an examination, and evaluate if you are a good candidate for this procedure & discuss with you all your options.
Cosmetic Crown Lengthening
Only 2 Weeks After
Do you have a gummy smile? Our periodontists are specialists who have expertise in correcting gummy smiles and can help give patients a smile they’ve always wanted.
For people who are unhappy with their smiles or feel they have a “gummy smile,” Cosmetic Crown Lengthening can make a world of difference.
When teeth appear short or uneven, or many gums are showing when smiling, it’s because there is too much gum tissue covering the teeth. People can sometimes feel this is unsightly and try not to smile because of it.
During the crown lengthening procedure, the excess gum tissue is removed. The underlying bone is precisely contoured to expose more of the natural tooth, creating longer teeth and a more attractive smile. This procedure creates better symmetry and balance, enhancing your natural smile.
The best part? While it requires periodontal expertise & training, it is a surprisingly simple procedure for the patient with no pain & same-day results. It’s instant gratification! And one of the most rewarding procedures we can do. This is an effortless cosmetic procedure with incredible changes you can see that very same day!
The Lip Repositioning procedure is an additional treatment for a gummy smile.
This minimally invasive cosmetic procedure removes excess tissue from inside the mouth underneath the top lip and keeps the lip from moving so far up on smiling. This also helps treat a thin lip, bringing fullness to the upper lip and improved confidence in smiling.
This can be performed alone or in combination with Cosmetic Crown Lengthening, based on your individual needs and goals.
Please call us if you are interested in a consultation to find out how you can enhance your natural smile!