Dr. Brien Harvey - Tucson AZ Gum Grafting Periodontist
What is Gum Grafting?
Your gingiva, or gum tissue, is necessary to withstand the stresses of chewing and brushing/flossing. Sometimes, the gum tissue wears away, in a process known as gingival recession. If the recession gets all the way through the gum tissue into the surrounding, weaker oral mucosa, frequently a gum grafting procedure becomes indicated. Depending upon the depth of the recession and whether or not it is an esthetic concern (if the recession shows when you speak or smile), gum grafting can be indicated even if there is still some remaining tough gum tissue.
Gum grating is a delicate, intricate surgical procedure. Most commonly, this entails preparing a little pouch in the tissue at the site of the recession. A small sliver of tissue from the roof of the mouth is then taken and placed within the pouch. Small sutures are then placed, both in the roof of the mouth and at the graft site. We (always) use resorbable (dissolving) sutures, so that you have the option of letting the come out on their own. Every now and then a patient will ask us to remove loose sutures during the postoperative visit.
Dr. Harvey recommends conscious sedation for all periodontal and dental implant surgeries (see "About Conscious Sedation"). Our patients tell us that gingival grafting 'the modern way' is easy and heals quickly. What is the modern way? Well, in addition to the sedation, Dr. Harvey almost always does a procedure known as connective tissue grafting, taking tissue from underneath the surface of the palate, avoiding the large, painful ulceration that used to be unavoidable with grafting 'the old fashioned way.'
How can you avoid the need for a gum graft? Keep your gums healthy. When healthy, gum tissue has a high concentration of collagen. Unfortunately, when plaque is allowed to build up along the gum line or between the teeth, inflammation ("gingivitis") results. One of the first effects of gingivitis is that ALL of the collagen dissolves away, dramatically weakening the gum tissue. So, if you are beginning to develop some recession, keeping the gum line clean will help minimize the tendency for the recession to worsen. It is also important to use a soft or ultra-soft toothbrush.
Please contact our office for a consultation appointment if you are concerned about gingival recession and the possibility of needing a gum graft.