Gingival recession and gingival grafts


A dentist may refer a patient to a periodontist as they are concerned about the lack of gum tissue and bone around the teeth or a tooth.  The gum tissue and bone has receded or dropped away from around the tooth exposing the root of the tooth, this may be sensitive in some cases and can predispose the tooth to decay of the root surface.  If left untreated further recession and bone loss may occur that may lead to loss of the tooth. 

The gums may have recede for a number of reasons, including periodontal disease or aggressive toothbrushing.  Once the contributing factors are controlled a soft tissue graft procedure may be performed in order to help repair the defect and prevent additional recession and bone loss.  This procedure may also cover exposed roots to protect them from decay, reduce sensitivity and improve the aesthetics of a patients smile. 

The procedure is done under local anaesthetic.  The tooth and gum around the affected tooth or teeth is prepared to receive the graft.  Gum tissue is taken from the palate and carefully stitched into place around the tooth or teeth.  Stitches are placed to stabilise the tissues.  The stitches are removed after one week and further follow-up visits arranged as necessary.  For the first month the graft is only lightly adhering, it takes time for the graft to fully attach, so care is needed with eating and cleaning the teeth.  Full instructions are given after surgery. 

Any post-operative discomfort is managed with panadol or nurofen. 

Apprehensive patients can be offered a choice of oral sedation or intravenous sedation.  Intravenous sedation is administered by an anaesthetist and will incur a further cost.