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Soft Tissue Grafting

Soft tissue grafting is a versatile procedure used around natural teeth or dental implants.  Periodontal disease, trauma, aging, over brushing, and poor tooth/implant positioning are the leading causes of gum recession.

The main goal of soft tissue grafting is to either cover the exposed root or to thicken the existing gum prior to placing dental implants in order to give an optimal esthetic result!

The three different types of common soft tissue grafts include:

  • Free gingival graft – A strip of tissue is removed from the roof of the mouth and stitched to the grafting site in order to promote natural growth.  This type of graft is most commonly used for thickening existing tissue.

  • Connective tissue graft – For larger areas or root exposure, subepithelial tissue is needed to remedy the problem.  This subepithelial connective tissue is removed from a small flap in the mouth and sutured to the grafting site.  This is the most common treatment for root exposure.

  • Pedicle graft – This type of graft involves the “sharing” of soft tissue between the affected site and adjacent gum.  A flap of tissue is partially cut away and moved sideways to cover the root.  The results of this type of graft are excellent because the tissue that is moved to the adjacent area includes blood vessels that are left in place.

Reasons for soft tissue grafting

Soft tissue grafting is an extremely versatile procedure that has many uses.  Recent developments in dental technology have made soft tissue grafting more predictable and less intrusive.  Here are some of the main benefits associated with soft tissue grafting treatment:

  • Increased comfort – Root exposure can cause substantial pain and discomfort.  Eating hot, cold or even warm foods can cause severe discomfort. Soft tissue grafts cover the exposed root, decrease sensitivity and restore good health to the gum area.
  • Improved aesthetics – Gum recession around dental implants or natural teeth can cause the smile to look “toothy” or the implant to show through the gums.  Soft tissue grafting can be used as a cosmetic procedure to re-augment the gums, and make the smile appear more symmetrical.

  • Improved gum health – Periodontal disease is a progressive condition that can destroy soft tissue very rapidly.  When used in combination with deep cleaning procedures, soft tissue grafting can halt tissue and bone loss, and protect exposed roots from further complications.

What does soft tissue grafting treatment involve?

The grafting procedure itself will generally can be performed under local anesthetic or intravenous (IV) sedation.  A small incision will be made at the recipient site in order to create a small pocket.  A split thickness incision is made in this pocket and the donor tissue is placed between the two sections of this area.  The donor tissue strip is generally larger than the incision, so some excess will be apparent.

Finally, the wound site will be sutured to prevent shifting, and surgical material will be placed to protect the sensitive area.  Gum uniformity and substantial healing will take place in the first six weeks after the procedure.

If you have any questions about soft tissue grafting, please contact our practice.