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A gum graft, also called a gingival graft, is a periodontal surgery that corrects receding gums. Gum recession is when your gums pull away from your teeth, exposing your tooth roots.
The first sign of root exposure is typically sensitivity to hot and cold substances. This is because root surfaces do not have hard enamel, which makes them more sensitive.
Depending on the severity of the condition, your gums may recede on one tooth, a few teeth, or all of your teeth.
The primary causes of gum recession include:
There are three types of gum graft surgery, including connective tissue grafts, pedicle grafts, and free gum grafts. Depending on your needs, your dentist will determine the best treatment possible to ensure long-term success.
Connective tissue grafts are the most common treatment for gum recession.
During the procedure, a periodontist removes soft-tissue from the second layer under the roof of your mouth (palate). Then they stitch the tissue onto the gums of the exposed root. Lastly, they stitch up the flap on the palate from where the gum tissue was taken.
During a pedicle graft, healthy gum tissue is taken from the tooth next to the recessed tooth.
During the procedure, a periodontist cuts a flap of tissue from the gum of the adjacent tooth. Then the exposed root surface of the recessed tooth is covered with the new soft-tissue and stitched into place. The goal of a pedicle graft is to keep the blood vessels in place.
During a free gum graft procedure, also called a free gingival graft, a periodontist removes soft-tissue directly from the roof of the mouth. Then they stitch the tissue on top of the gum above the exposed root.
Periodontists typically only recommend free gum grafting to patients with thin gums.
Rejuvagum lift is a newer treatment for gum recession. The procedure eliminates the need for gum graft surgery by using advanced platelet-rich fibrin to regrow receding gums.
During the procedure, a small amount of your blood is used to create the “platelet-rich fibrin,” which is a collection of white cells. Then, your periodontist injects the fibrin into your receding gum(s). This helps regenerate new gum tissue in just a few days. Stitches are also used to hold the fibrin in place for about two weeks.
There are many benefits of gum graft surgery. The primary advantages include:
The healing process post-op should not take longer than two weeks. To help speed up recovery, you should:
The success rate of gum graft surgery is high. In rare cases, dental complications can occur. This may include:
If you experience bleeding that lasts longer than 20 minutes, notice unexpected swelling, or develop a fever, contact your dentist immediately. These symptoms may indicate an infection.
The cost of treatment depends on how many grafts are needed, the extent of gum recession, and whether the tissue was taken from the patient’s mouth or a tissue bank. If the tissue is taken from a cadaver (tissue bank), the procedure usually costs more.
On average, gum grafts can cost anywhere between $600 and $3,000 per tooth. Depending on your insurance plan, the procedure may be partially or fully covered.
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Goldstein, M., et al. “A Critical Evaluation of Methods for Root Coverage.” Critical Reviews in Oral Biology & Medicine, vol. 7, no. 1, 1996, pp. 87–98., doi:10.1177/10454411960070010601.
Johnson, Jordan D. American Dental Association (ADA) Patient Education Center. http://www.ada.org/en/~/media/ADA/Publications/Files/ADA_PatientSmart_Gum_Recession
“RejuvaGum Lift Treatment For Gum Recession Featured On ABC News Los An.” PRWeb, 14 May 2015, https://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/05/prweb12723206.htm.