Why has my dentist recommended soft tissue grafting?

For more information visit Why Am I Being Referred?

In health there is a thick band of firm, bound down gum tissue around the teeth referred to as gingiva. This tissue is resistant to everyday wear and tear and helps prevent bacteria and food debris from being pushed under the gums, which could cause an infection. Below the gingiva is loose, thin, and more elastic tissue referred to as mucosa. The mucosa is necessary to allow talking and eating but it does not protect against bacteria or debris. You may be referred to see Dr. Dow because of inadequate gingiva, recession, inflammation, or a frenum attachment problem.

What is Soft Tissue Grafting?

Soft tissue grafting, also known as gum grafting, is a procedure performed to thicken the gums where they are deficient and to cover root surfaces that have become exposed. The procedure may help prevent further gum recession and bone loss, infection, and even tooth loss. It may also help decrease tooth sensitivity, improve the esthetics of your smile and ensure the health of your teeth.

Benefits of soft tissue grafting

Reducing further recession and bone loss.
Covering exposed roots to protect them from decay.
Reducing tooth sensitivity and improve aesthetics of your smile.

Different Types of Grafts

A free gingival graft is a tried and true technique in which a superficial piece tissue from the roof of the mouth is transplanted to another area in the mouth that is deficient in thick protective tissue. Ouch!? Right? Not necessarily, but many people associate this type of grafting with horror stories from family and friends who had earlier versions of this procedure done in the past. Current technique still does leave a wound on the roof of the mouth which must be cared for by wearing a palatal guard which acts like a Band-Aid. So why use this technique when there are newer better techniques? In some cases, such as areas where there are significant fibers pulling on the gums, this type of grafting produces the best results for a patient.

Subepithelial Connective Tissue Grafting (CTG) is a more elegant procedure that can not only thicken thin tissue to make it more resilient and protective but it can also be used to cover roots sometimes. In this procedure a single incision is made in the roof of the mouth and the underlying connective tissue is removed from within that incision. The surface tissue is left in place to protect the area. The tissue can then be slipped into a pocket that was created to house the new tissue and everything is sewn into place to allow for healing.

Soft Tissue Allografting is the name for any grafting procedure in which the soft tissue is taken from a donor. The technique of placing the tissue in place is similar to the CTG. The difference is that there is not an incision on the roof of the mouth and the amount of available tissue is not limited so more teeth can be treated at once.

Whether you have a gum graft to improve aesthetics or function, patients often receive the benefits of both: a beautiful new smile and improved periodontal health – your keys to smiling, eating and speaking with comfort and confidence.