SOFT TISSUE GRAFTS

Soft tissue grafting is the transfer of gum tissue from one area of the mouth to another. The primary purpose of soft tissue grafting is to build up the soft tissue in an area where soft tissue is lacking.

A good example of this is the treatment of gum recession on a tooth. Recession is the movement of the gums, up for the upper teeth and down for the lower teeth, exposing the root surface of the tooth/teeth. This process may be self limiting or continue to progress over time. The primary factor in the development and progression of recession is due to the minimal thickness of the gums and bone surrounding the teeth and/or position of the tooth in the jaw bone. Other factors that may affect recession are too aggressive of tooth brushing, too hard of a tooth brush and grinding and/or bruxing your teeth.

The main goal in soft tissue grafting of recession is thickening the soft tissue covering the tooth to prevent further recession. The secondary goal in soft tissue grafting is attempting to get coverage of the root that has been previously exposed by the recession. Unfortunately, root coverage is not always possible. The treating doctor should give you an idea on the predictability of getting coverage of the root in your situation.

Soft tissue grafting is a minor periodontal surgical procedure. The affected area (recipient site) and the donor site, are numbed with a local anesthesia, just as you would have with a filling. The receded area is prepared to receive the graft. The tissue is remove or released from the donor site and transferred to the recipient site. Both areas are usually sutured (stitched). The sutures are removed on about 1 week and you are given instructions on how to maintain the sites. While most grafts heal within 3-4 weeks, total healing and shaping takes a number of months.