Gum Grafting: Why Do I Need It?

Gum grafting (or “augmentation”) is a process where we place new gum tissue onto an area that needs it. There are multiple types of gum grafting processes, but they all serve the same purpose: to cover and protect an area that’s suffering from tissue loss.

Do you need a gum graft? You might if you fit one of the following situations:

Gum Loss From Trauma or Infection

Everything from periodontal disease to aggressive toothbrushing can cause your gumlines to recede. When they do, it weakens the overall integrity of your tooth. Tobacco use is another type of “trauma” that can alter the shape of your gums. Particularly smokeless tobacco like dip or snuff, as it physically irritates the tissue next to where it’s held in your mouth.

By replacing lost gum tissue, you can help protect your smile and delay associated bone loss in that area. Depending on whether the tissue recession is from trauma or infection, some oral care habits and lifestyle choices may need to be modified. Such as switching to a softer toothbrush or starting a tobacco cessation plan. Soft tissue therapy such as a deep cleaning may also be recommended.

Placement of Dental Implants

When you’re replacing missing teeth, it’s important that there is a healthy area to install the dental implant. But prolonged tooth loss can also trigger shrinking in the bone and gums at that location. If there isn’t enough bone, our periodontist can perform augmentation in that area to build it up further, creating a stable foundation to support the implant. Gum grafting may also be required to ensure proper tissue height and coverage around your future dental implant.

Gum grafting can be a stand-alone therapy, but it is frequently combined with bone grafting and other periodontal procedures as needed.

Aesthetics and Periodontal Plastic Surgery

Visible tooth roots can detract from your smile’s overall appearance. Adjusting your gumlines and performing periodontal plastic surgery can enhance the symmetry of your gum tissues as they curve around each tooth. So, if you’re “long in the teeth”, gum grafting will essentially help your smile look years—if not decades—younger than it currently does.

If you’re someone who has dark shadows between your teeth when you smile, it’s likely not because of cavities. It’s probably because of tissue loss of the pointed “papilla” between each of your teeth. Since you wouldn’t want to fill that space in with bonding or dental veneers (it would leave your teeth looking overly bulky) the best solution is to address the actual tissue itself. Depending on the shape and integrity of the tissue at that location, a graft may need to be incorporated.

After Gum Disease Therapy

The bacteria under your gums responsible for causing periodontal disease also prevent your tissues from attaching to your tooth. Plaque and calcified tartar buildup compound with time, irritating the gums at that area. When treating your gum infection through specialized cleanings, it may also be necessary to address how much soft tissue is left around your teeth.

It Protects Your Teeth

Without gum grafting, serious gum recession can jeopardize the long-term health of your smile. Gumlines tend to continue to creep down the root, exposing delicate tooth surfaces to acids and bacteria. Without prompt treatment, cavities will easily develop across surfaces that weren’t meant to be exposed. Even if you brush and floss well, your smile is at risk. And in turn, there’s less of a foundation to keep your teeth firmly anchored in place.

Teeth with severe gum recession tend to become sensitive, develop cavities across their root surfaces, and gradually loosen out of the socket. In a matter of time, tooth loss can occur.

It Won’t Improve on its Own

Unfortunately, gum tissue doesn’t grow back on its own. Once the trauma or infection causes gums to detach, they typically stay that way or just get worse with time. There is nothing you can do when it comes to home care to help those tissues come back.

With gum grafting treatments, you can stop tissue loss and quickly re-cover the root surfaces that are exposed. Then we’ll show you how to maintain the graft for the best long-term results.

Reserve a Consultation Today

Periodontists like Dr. Saunders are experts when it comes to soft tissue therapy and gum grafting. If you have concerns about the health of your teeth or the way your smile looks, a gum graft could be especially helpful. Contact our office in The Woodlands today to learn more.

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