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Everything You Need to Know about Tissue Grafting

If your dentist just told you that you need tissue grafting, do not panic – this gum surgery is common, usually causes minimal discomfort, and can help save your teeth.

In dentistry, tissue grafting simply means that a dentist takes a bit of gum tissue from one spot in your mouth and transplants it in another spot.

Gum Tissue Grafts Treat Root Exposure

Gum tissue grafting treats root exposure. Dentists refer to gum tissue as “gingiva.” This thick protective tissue protects the roots of your teeth from exposure. Healthy gingiva is firm and pink. The gum surrounds each tooth to fit snugly, like a collar; the tissue turns in slightly where it meets the tooth to form a narrow groove.

While gum tissue is thick, gingiva can become inflamed easily. This inflammation causes the gum to detach slightly from the neck of the tooth, which is the part of the tooth that sits just below the gum line. This groove between the tooth and the gum can deepen to form a pocket. Bacteria build up in these pockets quickly to cause gum disease.

Inflammation of the gingiva may cause your gums to bleed, especially when you brush your teeth. Other symptoms of gingivitis include irritation, redness, and inflammation of your gums. although you may not notice any other symptoms. Inflammation of the gums, also known as gingivitis, is a common and mild form of gum disease.

Gingivitis may lead to periodontitis, which is an advanced form of gum disease that can lead to tooth loss and can even lead to other serious health complications.

As gingivitis progresses, the gingiva tissue pulls away from the tooth. Gum recession exposes the tooth and its root to bacteria and food. You may notice tooth sensitivity when you eat or drink especially hot or cold food or beverages. Exposure can damage the bone that supports your teeth, and this damage can lead to tooth loss.

A gum tissue graft repairs damaged gum tissue and prevents further dental problems.

Types of Gum Tissue Grafts

A periodontist is a type of dentist that specializes in preventing, diagnosing, and treating periodontal disease. Our periodontist may recommend one of three types of gum tissue grafts, depending on the physiology of your gum line and your individual dental needs.

The three main types of gum tissue grafts include:

Connective-tissue grafts

Connective tissue graft is the most common method for treating root exposure. During this type of graft, the periodontist creates a flap of tissue at the roof of your mouth, removes a bit of connective tissue, and stitches the tissue to the receding gum surrounding the exposed root. After removing the connective tissue, the periodontist stitches the flap back into place.

Free gingival grafts

Like a connective-tissue graft, a free gingival graft uses tissue from the roof of your mouth. Instead of making a flap and removing tissue, the periodontist removes a small amount of tissue directly from the roof of your mouth and attaches it to the receding gum. Your periodontist may recommend free gingival grafts if you have thin gums and would benefit from additional tissue to enlarge your gums.

Pedicle grafts

During a pedicle graft, your periodontist creates a special flap, known as a pedicle. Rather than removing tissue from one spot and placing it in another, your periodontist creates a flap and leaves one edge attached. Your periodontist simply pulls the flap over or down to cover up the exposed root, and then sews the flap into place. A pedicle graft may be right for you only if you have an ample amount of gum tissue near the affected tooth.

Tissue grafting is an outpatient procedure. Depending on the location of the graft, most patients experience minimal to moderate discomfort that lasts up to a few days. Recovery from tissue grafting occurs in stages, with the initial recovery period lasting 48 to 72 hours and the final maturation phase of the graft, which takes 10 to 30 days.

Depending on the type of tissue grafting you had undergone, your recovery and treatment expectations may vary. For more information on gum tissue grafting, contact our periodontist.