Gum Grafting

When recession of the gingiva occurs, the body loses a natural defense against both bacterial penetration and trauma. When gum recession is a problem, gum reconstruction using grafting techniques is an option.

When there is only minor recession, some healthy gingiva often remains and protects the tooth, so that no treatment other than modifying home care practices is necessary. However, when recession reaches the mucosa, the first line of defense against bacterial penetration is lost.

In addition, gum recession often results in root sensitivity to hot and cold foods as well as an unsightly appearance of the gum and tooth. When significant, gum recession can predispose to worsening recession and expose the root surface, which is softer than enamel, leading to root caries and root gouging.

 
before and after gum grafting

A gingival graft is designed to solve these problems. A thin piece of tissue is taken from the roof of the mouth or gently moved over from adjacent areas to provide a stable band of attached gingiva around the tooth. The gingival graft may be placed in such a way as to cover the exposed portion of the root.

The gingival graft procedure is highly predictable and results in a stable, healthy band of attached tissue around the tooth.

Gingivectomy

The gum tissue can be very thick and large covering the tooth surface making the teeth look short. This can happen because of medications, bone that extends too close to the surface of the teeth, or inflammation due to gum disease.

A gingivectomy is a periodontal procedure that eliminates excess gum tissue. The term “gingivectomy” is derived from Latin:

  • “gingiva” means gum tissue,
  • “-ectomy” means to remove.

The following are some reasons a gingivectomy might be needed:

Cosmetics: To make the teeth look normal in size when the gum is covering too much of it, making the teeth look longer and more proportional.

Functional/Esthetics: To remove excess gum tissue (gingival overgrowth) that has formed as a result of certain drugs such as anti-seizure and organ-transplant medications, and certain high blood pressure medications.

Bone and gum health around the teeth: To shrink deep gum pockets. This procedure might require some bone work as well.

Procedure

We first will anesthetize the area(s) to be treated. The excess of gum tissue is removed either with a scalpel blade and sometimes some rotary instruments or a laser. In most cases no sutures (stitches) are required. The surgical sites will be sore for 24-48 hours, and medication will be provided to alleviate any discomfort experienced. A week follow-up appointment is usually needed to ensure proper healing.

Frenectomy

A frenum is a naturally occurring muscle attachment, normally seen between the front teeth (either upper or lower). It connects the inner aspect of the lip with the gum. A lack of attached gingiva, in conjunction with a high (closer to the biting surface) frenum attachment, which exaggerates the pull on the gum margin, can result in recession. Additionally, an excessively large frenum can prevent the teeth from coming together resulting in a gap between the front teeth. If pulling is seen or the frenum is too large to allow the teeth to come together, the frenum is surgically released from the gum with a frenectomy. A frenectomy is simply the surgical removal of a frenum.

When Orthodontic treatment is planned or initiated, the removal of an abnormal frenum, with or without a gingival graft, can increase stability and improve success of the final orthodontic result.