When gum recession occurs, the body loses a natural defense against both bacterial penetration and trauma.  When there is only minor recession, some healthy gum tissue often remains and protects the tooth, so that no treatment other than modifying home care practices is necessary.

However, when recession extends past the protective gum tissue and into the mucosa, the first line of defense against bacterial penetration is lost.  The recession and corresponding underlying bone loss can affect long term tooth survival, and in severe cases lead to tooth loss. Also, gum recession often results in root sensitivity to hot and cold foods as well as an unsightly appearance of the exposed root.  Occasionally the exposed root surface, which is much softer than enamel, will develop root cavities and/or notching.

Some of the most common types of gum grafting include:

Free Gingival Graft:  This procedure serves to reestablish a stable, healthy band of protective gum tissue around the tooth.  A layer of tissue is removed from the palate (roof of the mouth) and relocated to the area affected by gum recession.

Connective Tissue Graft:  This procedure is commonly used to cover exposed root surfaces.  Tissue is removed fairly painlessly from the inner layer of the palate and relocated to the site of gum recession.

Acellular dermal matrix allograft:  This procedure uses medically processed, donated human tissue as a tissue source for the graft.  The advantage of this is procedure is that there is no need for a donor site from the patient’s palate (and thus, less discomfort).