Friday, July 11, 2014

Gingival Grafts

What is it?
Periodontal (gum) surgery is most often associated with the removal of soft tissue. But there are times when it is necessary to use soft tissue to cover an area that has too little soft tissue remaining. 

What causes it?
Exposed roots may be due to the improper brushing, periodontal disease, or genetic structure. Brushing too hard and/or with a hard toothbrush can cause the gingival tissue to disappear. The gingival margin (gumline) changes, and one or more millimeters of root structure can be exposed. Active periodontal disease can cause loss of this soft tissue too. 

Why you should care
This exposure can lead to teeth that are very sensitive to temperature changes, root decay, or are quite unsightly. The disfigured soft tissue line can lead to a plaque trap, causing more disease and further problems.


How dentists fix it
Two methods of resolving these problems are free gingival grafts and attached gingival grafts. Both of these are periodontal surgical procedures. In both cases, a local anesthetic will be used to numb the treatment site. 
In the case of an attached graft, gingival tissue is taken from the donor site and moved to the area where root coverage is required. The graft tissue is sutured into place, and a dressing is placed over the treated area. The dressing remains in place for several weeks and is then removed. An attached graft is not completely removed from the donor site. The donor site is adjacent to the site that needs root coverage. There is an incision made in the gum tissue, and the tissue is moved sideways, up, or down and sutured into place. Again, a protected dressing is placed to protect the area while healing occurs. Any anticipated postoperative discomfort is resolved with medication. Most discomfort will come from a free graft donor site.

Who performs the procedure?
A periodontist (gum specialist) usually performs these procedures, as well as other types of grafts and root coverage treatments. After the periodontist examines the areas needing treatment, you will have a better idea of what treatment will consist of, what the appearance may be, anticipated healing times, postoperative discomfort, and cost.

How can you prevent it?
Most patients have heard that they should take better care of their teeth - brush and floss the teeth. Some patients brush too hard and in a back-and-forth motion; and some facial, bony structures and biting forces are such that root exposure happens, resulting in longer looking teeth. The grafting procedures mentioned here can restore the proper gingival marginal architecture, prevent root decay, reduce or eliminate thermal sensitivity, and make your smile look great again.

If you have any questions about gingival grafts, please feel free to ask us.

4 comments:

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