When recession of the gums occurs, the body loses a natural defense against both bacterial penetration and trauma. Gum recession is also a type of bone loss, which eventually leads to tooth loss. When gum recession is a problem, gum reconstruction using grafting techniques is an option.
Recession is often a result of vigorous brushing, naturally thin tissues, or stretching of tissues during orthodontics. If there is still adequate attached gum to act as a barrier to the cheek muscles, and there is no esthetic concern or cold sensitivity, the treatment for recession is to ensure further damage isn't done when brushing. However, if the attached gum is worn to the point where it cannot resist the constant pull of the cheek, recession will continue unless a new hard band of gum is placed. Unchecked, the recession can cause tooth loss because the supporting bone recedes with the receding tissue and therefore, tooth support weakens.
Additionally, in some cases, areas of recession can be more prone to decay, they may be the cause of tooth sensivity, or a poor appearance of your smile. Perhaps you wish to enhance your smile by covering one or more of these roots that make your teeth appear too long. Or, maybe you're not bothered by the appearance of these areas, but you cringe because the exposed roots are sensitive to hot or cold foods and liquids. Any of these complaints would be indications for a gum graft.
There are two basic types of gum grafts: Those that add to the firm band of tissue at the neck of teeth to resist further recession (gingival graft), or those that cover up recession defects while also augmenting the quality of the surrounding tissue (connective tissue graft). Each specific defect must be evaluated to determine the most appropriate treatment.
Tissue is taken from your palate, adjacent to the back teeth, or from another donor source to cover the exposed root. This can be done for one tooth or several teeth depending on your specific needs.
Example of Gingival Graft
Example of Connective Tissue Graft