Gum recession results in exposure of root surfaces. It involves both loss of soft tissue (gum tissue) and hard tissue (supporting bone). Not only do the teeth end up looking long and unappealing, but they also can become sensitive to both hot and cold foods. Significant recession can also put you at higher risk for root decay (cavities) because the root surface is softer than enamel. Several risk factors predispose a person to recession. These include traumatic forces from clenching and grinding the teeth as well as tooth brush abrasion.
To treat recession defects, soft tissue grafting is performed to restore lost gum tissue and to prevent further gum and bone loss. During the procedure, gum tissue is taken from the palate (roof of the mouth). A stent is placed over the palate for about a week to protect the donor site (palate). They are highly predictable and the results establish a healthy band of gum tissue around the tooth. More specifically, a connective tissue graft is placed to cover exposed root surfaces for both function and esthetics as well as to add thick stable gum tissue whereas a free gingival graft is performed more often to create and augment a zone of healthy gingiva, but may not actually cover the exposed root.
In some cases, a patient’s own tissue is not utilized. Instead a sterile human connective tissue matrix is obtained from specialized tissue banks. The have been used for many years in medicine with no cases of disease transmission. The main advantange is that it is available in unlimited quantities and doesn’t involve the palate.