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Soft Tissue Graft

This type of periodontal treatment is recommended when gum recession is present or if your gum tissue is too thin, and therefore, predisposed to recession. Gum recession causes the roots of your teeth to be exposed. Are your teeth more sensitive than usual? You may have a receding gum line. But more importantly, you may be experiencing bone loss. Gum graft surgery will repair the defect and help prevent additional recession and bone loss. Most likely you’ll be scheduled for scaling and root planing before your periodontist can perform this procedure.


Gum graft surgery is invasive and will require stitches. Therefore, the first step your periodontist will perform is numbing the problem area with local anesthetic. He may also numb the roof of your mouth if soft tissue is harvested from there to replace the gum tissue that receded from your gumline.


Next, your periodontist will retrieve the replacement graft (gum tissue). There are four different grafts he can use: connective-tissue, free gingival, pedicle, or tissue bank grafts. Each has a slightly different procedure, which are explained below.


Connective-tissue Grafts


This graft is harvested from the tissue underneath the roof of your mouth. Your periodontist will make small incisions to create a flap on your palate. He’ll then cut a small piece of tissue from underneath the flap and place it aside on moist gauze. Next, he’ll take surgical sutures and stitch up the flap on the roof of your mouth. 


Following this, he’ll gently pull away your gums from the area receiving the graft. Next, he’ll place the connective-tissue graft over the exposed root surfaces. Some of the graft will be tucked into the existing gum tissue. Once the graft is set in place, your periodontist will start stitching the area back up with surgical sutures. 


The last part of this procedure is rinsing and “bandaging” the area. Naturally, some of the graft might be exposed. Therefore, your periodontist will use a pink putty-like material known as periodontal dressing to cover and protect the graft. It’ll last about a week or two. 


Free Gingival Grafts


Unlike connective-tissue grafts, free gingival grafts are taken directly from the surface or epithelium on the roof of your mouth. This means your periodontist will cut a piece of your palate to use as the graft. No flaps or stitches involved in this step.


The graft is then stitched to the receding gums. The area is rinsed with cold water and covered with a periodontal dressing. This graft is typically done on patients who naturally have thin gums. 


Pedicle Grafts 


Pedicle grafts are taken from a neighboring tooth of the defective one. However, there must be enough gum tissue next door in order to obtain this graft. 


Your periodontist will make an incision big enough to make a small piece in the neighboring gum tissue to slide over to cover the receding gumline. It will then be stitched to the gums on the other side, rinsed, and covered with periodontal dressing. 


The graft will still be connected to the tissue source so that it continues to receive your blood cells. Doing so helps it heal faster. This graft is usually done on smaller receding areas, such as a single tooth. 


Tissue Bank Grafts  


As you may have guessed, these grafts are created from donated human or animal tissue. But it’s not like these grafts are taken from donors and put in a petri dish until they’re used. The tissue is refined and goes through a sterilization process. The end product is a thin strip of donor tissue. So, it’s very safe and effective. In fact, it’s been used in millions of cases for over 35 years.


Each of these procedures typically takes 30 to 60 minutes. It depends on how big the receding area is. 


If you need to schedule an appointment or have any questions regarding any of these types of procedures, please contact us.

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