Gum recession is one of the most common (and easily preventable) scourges of the mouth. When gums start to peel back, they reveal the roots of your teeth, which affects how they feel, look, and whether or not they will fall out!
Below the surface of the gums, teeth are not protected by a hard, shiny layer of white enamel. Exposed dentin is a great conductor of extreme temperatures, which is why you might feel some pretty good zingers while sipping on a morning cup of hot java, or that mid-afternoon frappucino. Decay also becomes more prevalent, again because there is no suit of enamel or gum ‘armor’ protecting your roots. Finally, your smile will start to look ‘gummy’ and yellow. If left untreated, recession can result in tooth loss, which is the ultimate ‘gummy smile.’
Several factors can contribute to receding gums, including; periodontal disease, trauma, aging, aggressive brushing habits, and even crooked teeth. Soft tissue grafting is a procedure that we recommend as one of the most effective ways to treat gum recession. One of the primary goals of tissue grafting is to cover the exposed part of the root, or to thicken existing gum tissue, to stop any additional loss.
There are three types of tissue grafts that can be done, depending on the problem area. A free gingival graft is performed in areas where tissue may need thickening. It involves removing a small section of tissue from the roof of your mouth, which is then transferred to the grafting site and secured with a couple of stitches. This is then naturally absorbed into the surrounding tissue.
For roots that are exposed, there are two options, again, depending on the location site. A connective tissue graft is similar, in that a piece of subepithelial connective tissue is taken from a small flap in the mouth and then sutured to the area with exposed roots. A pedicle graft is also used to cover exposed roots, however the difference is that a flap of tissue is created next to the affected site, and this is then folded over the exposed root and stitched in place, rather like folding back your bed sheets.
Soft tissue grafting sounds far worse than it actually is. If you suspect you might be suffering from gum recession, give us a call at (207) 782-5308 or contact us to schedule an appointment and learn more about saving your smile.