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Soft Tissue Graft Treatment by San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry

Soft tissue grafting is a procedure used to treat and prevent further recession for those with receding gums. If you have receding gums, it is important to have it evaluated, to determine its causes and severity, and to determine what course of action is best to prevent further recession.

What Causes Receding Gums?

Gum recession is the process by which your gums recede or pull away from the tooth. Patients of all ages can experience gum recession. It can even happen to those who take great care of their teeth. Here are some of the factors that can lead to receding gums:

Over-Brushing

You can cause the gums to recede by physically wearing them down by brushing your teeth too hard or using a hard bristle toothbrush. This is the most common cause of receding gums, and receding gums from over-brushing can occur even if your oral hygiene is otherwise perfect. To prevent this habit, stick to using a soft manual toothbrush to brush your teeth. If you use an electric toothbrush, hold the brush as you would a flute. You don’t need to apply extra pressure. Just let the electric brush do its work! Don’t forget to change your toothbrush about every 3 months, especially when it starts to fray.

Genetic Factors

There are some inherited factors that can lead to receding gums, including how thick or thin your gums are. Those with thin or weak gums tend to have receding gums. Tooth position, prominent tooth roots, or even tooth crowding can contribute to recession. A high frenum or muscle attachment can also lead to gum recession.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is the loss of bone that supports the teeth because of an inflammatory reaction. This loss of connective fibers and bone around the root of the tooth can lead to receding gums. A prior history of gum disease or pocket reduction surgery can result in recession.

Other Physical Factors

There are other physical factors that can wear down your gums and cause them to recede, including clenching or grinding your teeth, lip piercings, smoking or any tobacco use, tooth trauma, or even partial dentures that don’t fit right.

Gum Recession Treatment With Soft Tissue Grafting

Soft tissue graft treatment is a long-term way to treat gum recession, allowing you to immediately identify and resolve your periodontal issues. Soft tissue grafting involves taking healthy tissue from elsewhere in the mouth and using it to treat the receding gums, covering the exposed tooth roots.

Why is Soft Tissue Graft Treatment Used for Receding Gums?

One type of treatment for receding gums is to regrow or regenerate lost gum tissue, also known as soft tissue grafting. Here are a few of the main benefits of soft tissue grafting.

Eating Becomes More Enjoyable

One of the worst parts of receding gums is that the roots of your teeth are exposed. This can lead to an extreme sensitivity to temperature, meaning you will feel pain and discomfort when eating hot and cold foods. Soft tissue graft treatment covers the exposed root, resolving the sensitivity problem.

A More Beautiful Smile

Receding gums can lead to a “toothy” smile. Soft tissue grafting may also be a cosmetic procedure, with the tissue graft giving you a more even and beautiful smile.

Healthy Gums

Soft tissue grafts can prevent the tissue and bone loss that comes with periodontal disease, resulting in healthier gums.

What Are the Different Types of Soft Tissue Grafts?

Different techniques exist to regenerate lost gum tissue. Some techniques use your own gum tissue (autograft) and other techniques may involve donor tissue, either originating from a cadaver source (allograft) or animal source (xenograft). Each technique has its own advantages and disadvantages; it just depends on your individual case and what you and the periodontist are trying to achieve.

Autografts (From Self)

Normal gum tissue is typically composed of two layers: an outer “epithelial” layer and an inner “connective tissue” layer.

Free Gingival Graft

In a free gingival graft, a small piece of tissue is taken from the roof of the mouth and attached to the recession site to encourage natural growth. This involves the removal of both the outer and inner layer of gum tissue to be removed. This technique is used if there is a recession area that needs to be reinforced or thickened with strong gum tissue. Typically a second procedure may be necessary to move the gum tissue up to cover the roots. Color matching of the gum tissue is not ideal and there may be more postoperative discomfort.

Connective Tissue Graft

The connective tissue graft is the most common type soft tissue autograft. A small inner layer of connective tissue is removed, typically from the roof of the mouth, and is then placed onto the recession area to attach and cover the exposed tooth roots. This method is more esthetic as it blends to the surrounding gum tissue and is less invasive than the free gingival graft. It can help resolve areas of sensitivity caused by recession.

Allograft or Xenograft (from donor or animal source)

The advantage of using allograft or xenografts is that you don’t have to get gum tissue from your own mouth. Allografts do not limit how many recession areas can be treated at one time compared to an autograft so that a whole arch or whole mouth can be all completed in one visit. However we must note that it does not work in all cases.

Some techniques that use this type of graft are the Edward Allen Tunneling Technique, the Chao Pinhole Gum Rejuvenation Technique, and the VISTA technique. All of these techniques are minimally invasive as they utilize minimal incisions to access and peel the gum tissue from the underlying bone, compared to the larger traditional flap access. Because it is less invasive, there is also less postoperative discomfort.

How Do I Prevent Receding Gums?

Whether you currently have receding gums or if you want to prevent gum recession, here are a few tips to prevent or even slow down the rate of recession:

  • Removing plaque buildup with proper oral hygiene
  • Use a soft bristle toothbrush
  • Avoid brushing your teeth too hard or applying too much pressure when brushing
  • Review with your dentist or hygienist the proper techniques of brushing
  • Changing your toothbrush regularly
  • For thin or weak gums, consider gum grafting which can help increase the amount of stronger gum tissue
  • Consult with your dentist about getting a nightguard, which can minimize the effects of clenching and grinding

Treat Gum Recession at San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry

We at San Diego Periodontics and Implant Dentistry provide high-quality treatment for all of your dental needs, including gum recession. If you have receding gums and are in need of a soft tissue graft treatment, contact us today. Please give us a call at (619) 543-0905.