A gingival graft is a plastic surgery procedure in which tissue, either natural tissue taken from within the patient’s own mouth or medically-treated tissue from a donor, is used to alleviate gum recession.
Healthy gum tissue protects your teeth from disease and contributes to a great-looking smile. However, your gums may begin to recede, or shrink down, for several reasons. One reason is ineffective oral hygiene: this includes both inadequate brushing, which fails to remove dental plaque; and excessive brushing, which erodes the tissue. Foreign objects in the mouth that rub against the gums, such as poorly fitting removable dentures, can also cause gum recession.
When teeth lose the protective layer of gum tissue near the root, they can become extremely sensitive to cold. Missing tissue also makes it easier for bacteria to penetrate to the roots of the teeth and cause decay. That’s why proper treatment of gum recession is so important.
There are three types of graft:
- Connective-tissue graft: A flap of skin is cut in the roof of the mouth, and the connective tissue beneath is removed and stitched to the gum tissue around the exposed root. The flap is then sewn shut.
- Free gingival graft: A small amount of tissue is removed directly from the roof of the mouth and is attached to the receded gum area.
- Pedicle graft: Usually only used in patients with a large amount of gum tissue to begin with, a pedicle graft involves cutting a portion of the gum near the receded area, and covering the exposed root.