Understanding Gum Grafting: Causes, Types, and Benefits for Your Smile

Gum recession is a common, yet often unnoticed, dental issue that can lead to a host of oral health problems, including tooth sensitivity, decay, and ultimately, tooth loss. At Boulder Periodontics, we believe in providing a premier patient experience by offering first-class specialized dentistry and personalized care focused on addressing individual needs. One effective solution for gum recession is a periodontal treatment known as gum grafting, a procedure designed to repair and restore receded gum tissue, protect exposed tooth roots, and dramatically improve the appearance of your smile.

Gum grafting, also known as gingival grafting or periodontal plastic surgery, is a surgical procedure in which a periodontist removes healthy gum tissue from another part of the mouth, often the palate or adjacent gum tissue, and attaches it to the receded gum area. This treatment not only provides a functional solution to gum recession but also offers aesthetic benefits, improving the appearance and harmony of your smile.

In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the common causes behind gum recession and the various types of gum grafting procedures available. We will also explore the benefits that gum grafting offers for your oral health and the overall appearance of your smile. Our experienced team at Boulder Periodontics is here to ensure you are well-equipped with knowledge and understanding as you contemplate if a gum grafting procedure can help you achieve better oral health and a more confident smile.

Common Causes of Gum Recession

Several factors can contribute to gum recession, a condition where the gum tissue surrounding the teeth starts to pull back, exposing the tooth root. Understanding these factors can help in identifying the steps needed to prevent further gum recession. Some common causes include:

  1. Periodontal Disease: Chronic gum disease or periodontal disease is one of the leading causes of gum recession. Bacterial infections can break down the gum and bone structure, leading to the loss of supporting gum tissue.
  2. Aggressive Tooth Brushing: Using a hard-bristled toothbrush or applying excessive pressure while brushing can wear down the gum tissues and cause them to recede.
  3. Teeth Grinding or Clenching: Bruxism (grinding or clenching your teeth) puts undue stress on your teeth and can lead to gum recession over time.
  4. Genetics: Some individuals are genetically predisposed to gum recession due to inherited traits, such as thin or weak gum tissue.
  5. Tobacco Use: Smoking or using smokeless tobacco products can cause gum irritation and make it easier for plaque to adhere to your teeth, resulting in gum recession.

Types of Gum Grafting Procedures

There are three primary types of gum grafting procedures, each catering to specific needs and characteristics of the patient's gum recession. Your periodontist will carefully assess your unique situation and determine which of the following gum grafting techniques will be most suitable for you:

  1. Connective Tissue Grafts: The most common type of gum graft, connective tissue grafts involve the removal of a small piece of tissue from the roof of the mouth (the palate), typically from the deeper layer beneath the top surface. This tissue is then stitched to the receded gum area, covering the exposed tooth root. The site on the palate where the tissue was removed will also be sutured closed.
  2. Free Gingival Grafts: Similar to connective tissue grafts, free gingival grafts involve removing a small piece of tissue from the palate. However, in this case, the tissue is taken directly from the top layer of the palate, making it a suitable option for individuals who have naturally thin gums. The piece of tissue is then attached to the receded gum area.
  3. Pedicle Grafts: In a pedicle graft, the gum tissue is harvested from a site adjacent to the area of gum recession, instead of the palate. A flap of the neighbouring gum tissue, known as a pedicle, is partially cut and then stretched to cover the exposed tooth root. This procedure is only suitable for patients with ample gum tissue near the affected tooth.

The Benefits of Gum Grafting for Your Smile

Gum grafting offers a range of benefits to individuals suffering from gum recession, both functionally and aesthetically. Some of the key advantages of gum grafting include:

  1. Reduced Tooth Sensitivity: By covering the exposed tooth root with a gum graft, you can significantly reduce tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods and beverages.
  2. Improved Oral Health: With gum grafting, the new gum tissue can help combat further gum recession and protect your teeth and supporting bone structure from potential damage due to gum disease or decay.
  3. Enhanced Aesthetics: Gum grafting can dramatically improve the appearance of your smile by covering exposed tooth roots and restoring a more consistent, natural gumline.
  4. Better Tooth Support: By addressing gum recession through gum grafting, you can help redistribute the force applied to your teeth when chewing, providing better overall tooth support and stability.


Gum grafting has the potential to address a variety of oral health concerns related to gum recession, while also improving the aesthetics of your smile. At Boulder Periodontics, we provide first-class specialized dentistry and world-class patient experiences to ensure that every patient receives our absolute best, every time.

If you are experiencing gum recession and would like to explore the possibility of gum grafts as a solution, our experienced team of periodontal professionals is here to guide you through each step of the process, from consultation to recovery. Contact us today to schedule a consultation, and let us partner with you in your journey towards a healthier, more confident smile.

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