Gum GraftsAccording to Wikipedia, a gum graft or gingival graft “is a generic name for any of a number of surgical periodontal procedures whose combined aim is to cover an area of exposed tooth root surface with grafted oral tissue.”

What benefits can a patient receive from this procedure?

When someone has gum recession, the exposed tooth surface can be sensitive. On anterior (front) teeth it can also be an esthetic problem. The exposed surface can also be more prone to decay which is caused by a different bacteria than on the enamel of the tooth. The biggest problem is if the recession crosses the mucogingival junction (a line demarcating where the bound to the bone gingival tissue ends), then the rate of recession can accelerate the risk for abscesses and possible tooth loss. So it is recommended to have this procedure done as soon as the dentist discovers the condition.

Where does the tissue come from?

The American Academy of Periodontology specified that the tissue comes from the roof of the mouth or another donor site (this can be at an old extraction site, or if there is enough tissue, from the tissue around the site to receive the graft).

Another choice is to use a collagen membrane containing a platelet rich concentrate, the platelets retrieved from blood drawn from the patient.

Yet another choice is use an alloderm which is harvested from cadaver tissue. Of course, the tissue bank must do a great job of making sure that the tissue is free of HIV, hepatitis and any other disease entities that may cause the patient a subsequent problem.

Gum grafts look much better than they did 30 years ago. There is a variation in the level of discomfort post-op from one patient to the next, and some of the newer techniques address this. But ignoring having this procedure done can remove some of the easier options and result in the worse possible result: tooth loss.