Gum graft

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


A gum graft or gingival graft (Also called Periodontal Plastic Surgery) is a generic name for multiple periodontal procedures that all aim to cover an area of severe gum recession with grafted gum tissue. The purpose of covering the exposed root is not only cosmetic, but also to prevent further recession, tooth sensitivity due to exposed roots and tooth decay on exposed root surfaces. These procedures are usually performed by a periodontist, a dental specialist in treatment of diseases of the gingiva (gums), however some non-specialists dentists may also have training in this area.

Specific procedures (Periodontal Plastic Surgery)

A free gingival graft is a dental procedure where a layer of tissue is removed from the palate of the patient's mouth and then relocated to the site of gum recession. It is stitched into place and will serve to protect the exposed root as living tissue. The donor site will heal without damage. This procedure is often used to increase the thickness of very thin gum tissue.

A subepithelial connective tissue graft takes tissue from under healthy gum tissue in the palate, which may be placed at the area of gum recession. This procedure has the advantage of excellent predictability of root coverage [1], as well as decreased pain at the palatal donor site compared to the free gingival graft. The subepithelial connective tissue graft is a very common procedure for covering exposed roots.

An Acellular Dermal Matrix (Alloderm) graft uses donated medically-processed human skin tissue as a source for the graft. The advantage of this procedure is no need for a palatal donor site, however some periodontists believe it may be less successful [2], while others believe it is equally successful as a subepithlial connective tissue graft. [3]

A lateral pedicle graft, also known as a "pedicle" graft, takes tissue from the area immediately adjacent to the damaged gum. This is not always an option, as the constraint that there must be sufficient tissue immediately lateral to the area of interest is an onerous one. When this procedure is performed, the transplant tissue is cut away and rotated over the damaged area. This can place the donor area at risk of recession as well.

A coronally positioned flap is another form of a "pedicle" graft in which gingival (gum) tissue is freed up and simply moved upwards on the tooth to cover the recession. This requires adequate thickness and width of gum tissue at the base of the recession defect.

See also


External links


  1. See article by Wennstrom et al. in the journal Annals of Periodontology, 1996
  2. See article by Harris et al. Journal of Periodontology, 2004.
  3. See article by Hirsch et al. in the Journal of Periodontology, 2005


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