Soft Tissue Grafting
When you look in the mirror and smile, does the reflection smiling back at you show a person who has a healthy, happy, and confident smile? Alternatively, are you struggling with the shame and embarrassment of having severely receding gums? Having exposed tooth roots is not only unattractive, but it can also be quite harmful, too. Your gums can start to recede for a variety of reasons, but when they do, your teeth can become at increased risk for decay and loss.
When we here at Tieken Smiles Dentistry meet a patient who has a receding gumline, we like to share with them the benefits of soft tissue grafting – also known as a gum graft procedure – to not only improve their oral health but also their self-esteem.
What do I Need to Know about Soft Tissue Grafting?
Receding gums may not seem like a very serious issue, but the fact is, it can be very detrimental to your oral health. Receding gums are often a result of poor oral hygiene and may be a big indicator that you are suffering from some degree of periodontal disease, also known as gingivitis or periodontitis.
However, genetics, diabetes, hormonal changes (like those that can occur during pregnancy), certain autoimmune diseases, and overbrushing can also lead to receding gums. When your gums start to recede, it can expose your tooth roots, making them more susceptible to tooth decay. Your teeth may also start to weaken and become more likely to become loose and eventually start to fall out.
We can diagnose patients with receding gums by measuring their gum pockets, or the depth of the space left behind by your shrinking gumline. A normal and healthy gumline has pockets that are typically less than three millimeters deep, but severe gum recession can be a centimeter or more in depth. Signs that you may have receding gums include blood in your saliva when you brush or floss, pain and discomfort when you eat hot or cold foods, red or swollen gums, bad breath (halitosis) or a sour taste in your mouth, and of course, visibly exposed tooth roots.
A gum graft works by borrowing donor tissue, usually from the soft palate, and surgically attaching it to the affected area. Before we begin, we may start by taking X-rays of the affected teeth. A deep cleaning may also be necessary to help remove any hardened buildup (called calculus or tartar) from the teeth and the tooth roots. This helps ensure that the new gum tissue will better adhere to the teeth.
We will then sedate our patient, using a combination of intravenous (IV) sedation and local sedation (typically lidocaine). We will then start by placing an incision into the gums; then we will carefully place the donor tissue over the surgical site. Normally the donor tissue is a larger piece of material than the affected site, so some visible remaining tissue is not uncommon.
Want To Learn More?
Soft tissue grafting is an extremely safe and common procedure and, in many cases, can help prevent a tooth from unwanted decay and loss. Healing normally takes place over the next six weeks, but continued healing is to be expected. To learn more about soft tissue grafting and how it can benefit patients who have receding gums, or to set up an appointment with us here at Tieken Smiles Dentistry, please give us a call at (281) 942-0444 today!