There are several causes of gum recession, but the most common is advanced gum disease. If you have finally gotten your oral health back on track, but still have those recessed gums to show for your past oral-hygiene mistakes, then there are surgical techniques that can build your gum tissue back up where it needs to be to not only improve the appearance of your smile, but also eliminate the tooth sensitivity that can occur near the roots of your teeth where your gum tissue used to sit. Speak to your dentist to see which of these options is best for you.
Gum Tissue Grafting
Gum tissue grafting has been performed for years, and there are three types of grafts for your dentist or oral surgeon to choose from depending on what is best for you.
Two of these grafts involve removing tissue from the roof of your mouth, called the palate, and suturing it in place where your natural gum tissue used to be. One is called a "connective tissue graft," because instead of harvesting the tissue on the outermost layer of your palate, the deeper layer of tissue, which is connective tissue, is taken instead. The other is called a "gingival graft," and this procedure involves removing the surface layer of tissue from your palate and using that as new gum tissue instead of the deeper layer of connective tissue.
After one of these grafts, the mouth palate will heal and return to normal within about 6 to 8 weeks, with the gingival graft healing a bit faster since the incision made is shallower. The tissue transferred from the roof of your mouth to the gum-line must also be "accepted" and receive enough blood supply from the bone to survive. Once it is in place, the blood vessels in the bone will merge with the vessels already present in the tissue, and once that occurs, that means the tissue will likely survive as long as you do.
Another type of gum graft is called a pedicle graft, and is only able to repair very mild gum recession. With this procedure, no tissue is taken from the roof of your mouth. Instead, a flap is cut into the gum tissue above a tooth with an exposed root and pulled down to cover the root. Since adequate gum tissue must be present for your dentist to cut the gum flap, you also must have relatively thick gum tissue for this procedure to be performed.
With all gum tissue grafts, the gums will heal within about 4 to 6 weeks. Special dressings may be placed on the healing gums for a few days after the procedures, and soft foods may need to be eaten for a few days to a few weeks depending on how quickly your grafts "take." Your dentist will give you specific instructions after the procedures.
While there is a small risk that tissue taken from the roof of your mouth won't be "accepted" into the implantation site, most gum grafts are successful.
New Pinhole Gum Surgery
Pinhole gum surgery is a relatively new procedure to repair recessed gums, and it doesn't involve any grafting at all.
This technique involves first poking a small hole in the remaining gum tissue above each tooth suffering from gum recession. Then, the remaining gum tissue is simply stretched down (or up, if performed on a lower tooth) to cover the exposed tooth roots. Then, small strips of natural collagen (similar to the material used for cosmetic surgery procedures) are inserted into the small holes that were made in the gums, and this collagen acts as an adhesive to connect the gum tissue that was stretched down to each tooth. The small holes made in the gums heal within a day or two with no stitches needed.
If you have permanent gum recession, then there are several ways it can be treated to give you your healthy smile back. Your dentist can help you decide which option is best for you. Click here to learn more.