Individuals concerned about the damaging effects of receding gums could find a solution in a range of soft tissue grafting treatments to improve the appearance of their smile. When gums recede, teeth often appear longer than normal and can be very sensitive.
Although the idea of gum surgery sounds daunting, the effective procedure can be used to limit the risk of tooth loss caused by severe cases of gum recession. In addition, the treatment can be used cosmetically to give patients an attractive set of pearly whites.
Often causing tooth sensitivity by exposing root dentine, receding gums can be painful due to the recession of the gum normally overlying the root dentine. In more severe cases supportive bone can also be damaged, which can often result in tooth mobility and tooth loss.
Soft tissue grafting can also be done around dental implants in areas where not enough soft tissue is available for a cosmetically acceptable dental implant. When doing dental implants in the smile zone, if enough soft tissue does not exist for an implant, we can transplant soft tissue from the palate to augment the soft tissue in the region and produce a far better aesthetically pleasing result.
Patients looking to receive soft tissue gum grafting will be first examined to ensure the most suitable type of treatment is carried out to combat the problem. Any untreated gum disease will need to be treated first before any soft tissue grafting is carried out in order to have stable results. Patients will be placed under a local anaesthetic to numb the areas of the mouth affected by the problem.
Prior to the onset of the process, plaque and tartar is removed from the exposed root of the tooth in a bid to ensure the most effective results after the attachment of the donor tissue.
Connective-tissue grafts are the most commonly used technique to treat root exposure. During this procedure, our dentists will remove a small flap of soft tissue from the roof of the mouth and stitch it to the tissue surrounding the exposed root.
This method is effective for the prevention of further root exposure, as well as reducing the sensitivity of the exposed tooth and significantly limiting the risk of tooth decay through the collection of harmful bacteria.
Free gingival grafts are generally the most useful technique for individuals who have thin gums to begin with and need additional tissue to bulk up the gum. Using this method, our dentists will remove soft tissue from the roof of the mouth and transplant it to the recipient site in order to create thick tough tissue there. The donor site (the roof of the mouth) will heal normally without any damage to the underlying gums, bone or neighbouring teeth.
Some patients may benefit more from a pedicle graft, during which the gum is removed from around the tooth in need of repair. Partially cut away from the rest of the tissue, the gum will be pulled over the root and sutured into place. Although this procedure appears to be the simplest option, it is only plausible to carry out when there is adequate soft tissue surrounding the damaged part of the tooth.
As part of the treatment, which can also be used for cosmetic dentistry, patients are given the opportunity to receive advice on the type of treatment that is most suitable for their needs. In addition, practitioners may decide to use tissue from a bank as an alternative to taking soft tissue from the roof of the mouth to prevent pain and discomfort for patients worried about the treatment.
Our dentists may provide some patients with tissue-stimulating proteins to encourage the body to develop bone and soft tissue throughout the treatment to ensure optimum results in a limited time period.
With severe gum disease affecting four to 12 per cent of adults, we urge patients with bleeding or inflamed gums to seek dental attention for what could be a worsening problem. Untreated gum disease can lead to gum recession and tooth mobility and cause bad breath and eventual tooth loss.
Individuals worried about revealing too much of their gums when they smile (gummy smile) could be interested in laser gum reshaping, which is also available at Pearl Dental Clinic. During this process our dentists will increase the height of the teeth, often also using porcelain veneers to improve the appearance.
Following the soft tissue grafting, patients will be given specific guidelines to follow in a bid to ensure the tissue is not disturbed during everyday activities. This may include an antibacterial mouthwash to speed up the healing process, as well as antibiotics to prevent the onset of infection and painkillers to deal with any sensitivity and pain.
Patients are urged not to floss or brush the gum line in the area that was repaired until it has fully healed, as well as consuming particular foods that are simple to eat in a bid to reduce recovery time.
Post-operatively we recommend eating soft foods, such as jelly, cottage cheese, well-cooked vegetables and ice cream for one week following gum grafting treatment to reduce pain as well as allow a suitable healing period.
Patients are reassured that they will be able to return to work the day after receiving the treatment and are expected to feel very little pain depending on the method of treatment they received. Over-the-counter painkillers are considered appropriate relief for individuals suffering irritation from the palate graft donor site.
The cost of the soft tissue grafting procedure, which can improve the smiles of people suffering from low self-esteem, differs depending on case complexity and size of graft. Prospective patients should speak to their Pearl Dental Clinic dentist for advice about the treatment.
Soft tissue grafting can act as a long-term solution to an often painful problem if those undergoing the treatment maintain a good dental hygiene routine, including regular brushing using a fluoride toothpaste and regular flossing.
Additionally, smoking – which is a leading contributor to gum recession – should be avoided and a healthy diet rich in nutritious ingredients should be maintained. Smoking can cause further gum recession after surgery and lead to infection within the grafted site.