Orthodontic Procedures – Soft, Tissue Gum Augmentation

Recession of the Gingiva

When the gingiva (gum) begin to recede or there is an inadequate amount of gums attached to your teeth, the body loses some of its natural defense system against bacteria and trauma.
To reconstruct the gum tissue, an option is to use grafting techniques. This procedure has a highly predictable outcome which results with a firm band of healthy tissue surrounding the tooth. Typically, procedures such as this are performed before orthodontic treatment to provide enough gum support for moving teeth.

Soft Tissue Grafting

There are many causes for receding gums such as periodontal disease, trauma, and over brushing. Soft tissue grafting is a means of resisting this decline. In some cases, the positioning of teeth lend themselves to gum recession which can lead to exposure of the roots.
When the roots are exposed, the tooth is more vulnerable to tooth decay and become sensitive to hot and cold foods. Soft tissue grafting can aid the tooth by covering the exposed portion and ad the thickening of tissue.

Of the three types of soft tissue grafting are the Connective Tissue Graft, Free Gingival Graft, and the Pedicle Graft.

Connective Tissue Graft

For large areas that need grafting, a cut is made in the mouth to produce a flap. Subepithelial connective tissue is taken from under the flap to be stitched to the gum surrounding the exposed root. The flap is stitched back down again.

Free Gingival Graft

For patients who have thin gums, this procedure will bring additional tissue to increase the gums around the tooth. A small strip of tissue is removed from under the top layer of the roof of the mouth. This tissue is then attached to the area being treated.

Pedicle Graft

During this procedure, the soft gum tissue is grafted from nearby the area being treated. A flap, called a pedicle, is partially cut and pulled over to cover the exposed root, and then it is sewn into place. This can only be done with patients who have enough gum near the tooth.
What does soft tissue grafting treatment involve?

The grafting procedure is generally performed under a local anesthetic depending on the extent of the area being treated. A small incision is made at the recipient site in order to create a small pocket. A split thickness incision is made the connective tissue graft is placed in this pocket and the donor tissue is placed between the two sections of this area. Proteins may be added to simulate and promote tissue growth. Sutures and surgical material will positioned and set to protect the treated area. Substantial healing will take place over the next six weeks.

Benefits of Soft Tissue Grafting

Developments in dental technology have made soft tissue grafting a predictable procedure with many uses to improve the condition of the gums.

Increased Level of Comfort
Soft issue grafting covers the exposed root with healthy gum tissue which can significantly decrease the discomfort from hot and cold foods.

Improved Smile
Soft tissue grafting can also be used as a cosmetic procedure. Recessed gums can emphasize the teeth making them appear to large or uneven. This cosmetic procedure can adjust the gum line aesthetically.

Improved Oral Health
Periodontal disease infects and destroys soft gum tissue. Combined with deep cleaning procedures, soft tissue grafting will protect the gums and can impede gum and bone loss.

If you have any questions about soft tissue grafting and gum augmentation, please call Drs. Barr and Marinak.