Another cosmetic procedure is the soft tissue graft. It is used to cover unattractive tooth roots, reduce gum recession and protect the roots from decay and eventual loss. When recession of the gingiva occurs, the body loses a natural defense against both bacterial penetration and trauma.
When there is only minor recession, some healthy gingiva often remains and protects the tooth, so that no treatment other than modifying home care practices is necessary. However, when recession reaches the softer mucosa, the first line of defense against bacterial penetration is lost.
In addition, gum recession often results in root sensitivity to hot and cold foods as well as an unsightly appearance to the gum and tooth. Gum recession, when significant, can predispose to worsening recession and expose the root surface, which is softer than enamel, leading to root caries and erosion.
A gingival graft is designed to solve these problems. A thin piece of tissue is taken from the roof of the mouth, or gently moved over from adjacent areas, to provide a stable band of attached gingiva around the tooth. The gingival graft may be placed in such a way as to cover the exposed portion of the root.
The gingival graft procedure is highly predictable and results in a stable healthy band of attached tissue around the tooth.