Why has my dentist recommended soft tissue enhancement?

For more information visit Why Am I Being Referred?

In gum 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 lead to an infection. Below the gingiva is loose, thin, 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 Enhancement?

Soft tissue enhancement, often referred to 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 recession, 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 enhancement

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

Different Types of Grafts

Gingival Graft (GG) 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 plastic "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.

Connective Tissue Graft (CTG) is a more elegant procedure that not only thicken thin tissue to make it more resilient and protective, 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 tissue is removed from within that incision. The surface tissue is left in place to protect the area. The tissue is then slipped into a pocket that was created to house the new tissue and everything is sewn into place to allow for healing.

Soft Tissue Allograft (STA) is similar to a connective tissue graft, but the tissue comes from a donor allowing multiple areas to be treated and avoiding taking tissue from the roof of your mouth.

Whether a soft tissue enhancement is performed to improve esthetics 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.