Gum recession is one of the most noticeable results of gum disease, but can also be caused by aggressive brushing, genetics or medications, and is characterized by the movement of the gum line down the root of a tooth. Recession can be limited to one tooth or many and symptoms vary from none at all to tooth sensitivity or simple aesthetic concerns. It is important to have gum recession repaired because the gum tissue is the primary barrier to bacteria. Without adequate gum tissue around the teeth, bacteria can cause gum disease, bone and gum deterioration, decay, and eventual tooth loss. Dr. Danielle Wehle offers gum grafting treatment options and a minimally invasive alternative, the Pinhole® Surgical Technique to correct gum recession and eliminate symptoms.
Those who feel that their teeth are too large or who are embarrassed by the amount of tooth showing can also benefit from gum grafting procedures. If gum disease or other reasons have caused significant loss of supporting structures, gum grafting can be used to return the gum line to a more attractive level. Doing so will reduce the amount of tooth that shows and improve the overall health of the teeth and gums.
There are four types of gum grafting surgery. The type we use will depend on your own unique situation, the degree of gum disease that you have experienced, and your specific needs.
Connective tissue grafts are the most common form of gum grafts. During the procedure, the doctor will cut a flap of skin from the roof of your mouth and remove tissue from under the flap. The flap is then stitched back down. The excised tissue will then be stitched to the gum tissue surrounding the exposed root. Over time, the attached tissue will grow together with the existing gum tissue, forming a healthier gum line around the tooth. In addition to natural grafts from the patient, some doctors prefer to use graft material from a tissue bank or synthetic material.
Free gingival grafts are similar to a connective tissue graft except that instead of cutting a flap to remove tissue underneath, a small amount of tissue is taken directly from the roof of the mouth. This tissue is then placed and attached directly to the gum area being treated. Doctors prefer this method for those who have naturally thin gums.
The pedicle graft method does not take graft tissue from the roof of the mouth. Instead, the gum tissue is grafted from existing tissue around the tooth needing repair. In this method, the flap, called a pedicle, is partially cut away so that one edge remains attached. The flap is then pulled over to cover the exposed root and sutured in place. This method is preferred for patients who have plenty of gum tissue near the tooth needing repair.
The Pinhole Surgical Technique (PST™) is a minimally invasive alternative to gum grafting. During the procedure, Dr. Wehle uses a special tool to make a small pinhole in the gum tissues. She then gently moves the tissues into a more desirable position, all without the use of scalpels or stitches. With PST, multiple sites can be treated at once and the results are immediate.