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If your dentist or periodontist has recently told you that you need to have a soft tissue graft to restore your delicate gum tissue, do not panic.  The gum graft may be necessary to protect your teeth from the damaging effects of gum recession. Gum recession is when the tissue that surrounds the teeth pulls away from the tooth, exposing the tooth and the tooth’s root. A soft tissue graft is done by taking gum tissue from one part of the mouth (or by using donor tissue) and placed over an area with exposed root surfaces.

Gum recession may impact the appearance of your teeth and may cause tooth sensitivity during eating. Signs of gum recession may include dark spots around the gums or food packing in the gum area.

How do I Know if I Have a Serious Problem with Gum Recession?

It is important to have your dentist regularly examine your teeth and measure your gum tissue during a routine dental visit to detect any signs of gum recession and gum disease.

Gum recession is a common dental problem and affects between 4 percent and 12 percent of adults and often goes undetected until it becomes more severe. To repair the damage and prevent further dental problems your dentist or periodontist may recommend a soft gum tissue graft.

What Happens During a Soft Gum Tissue Graft?

Three different types of gum tissue grafts are available. The graft procedures include:

  • Connective tissue grafts.  The most common type of graft is where a flap of skin is cut from the roof of your mouth (palate) and stitched to the gum tissue surrounding the exposed root. After the connective tissue is removed from under the palatial flap, the flap is stitched back down.
  • Free gingival grafts.  This procedure is similar to the connective tissue graft, but instead of making a flap and removing tissue under the top layer of flesh, a small amount of tissue is taken directly from the roof of the mouth and attached to the gum area.
  • Pedicle grafts.  Instead of taking tissue from the palate, the tissue is removed from areas near the gum or tooth that is to be repaired. The flap is only partially cut away so that the edge remains attached. The gum tissue is then pulled over to cover the exposed root and sewn in place.

Some dentists and patients prefer to use graft material from a tissue bank rather than from the mouth.

Your dentist or periodontist will provide specific postoperative guidance with diet, physical activity, and medications. Schedule your next cleaning and checkup today to ensure the stability of your gum tissue and to address any issues with gum inflammation. Dr. Melchers and his experienced staff are here to solve all your oral health care issues. Contact us today to see how we can best meet your dental care needs.