Soft Tissue Grafting

Soft Tissue Grafting

Receding gums have a number of causes: periodontal disease, age, trauma, even brushing teeth improperly. As gums recede, tooth roots may become exposed, increasing the risk of tooth decay. Additionally, you may experience discomfort when eating hot or cold foods. Soft tissue grafting recreates your gum line to prevent further deterioration. There are three types of soft tissue grafts

  1. Connective Tissue Graft: The most common root exposure treatment uses subepithelial tissue taken from a small flap in the mouth and grafted to the affected area.
  2. Free Gingival Graft: Commonly used to thicken existing tissue, this graft uses a strip of tissue from the roof of the mouth to promote natural growth.
  3. Pedicle Graft: This “sharing” graft produces excellent results because it uses adjacent tissue, including blood vessels. A portion of adjacent gum tissue is cut and then shifted to cover the affected area.


Why Do I Need Soft Tissue Grafting?

Patients choose soft tissue grafting for a variety of reasons, from medical to cosmetic. Luckily, modern technology offers numerous improvements, including predictable results and a less intrusive procedure.

The primary reason to undergo soft tissue grafting is improved gum health. Gum disease progressively destroys gums, teeth, and bone. This procedure addresses and stops those issues while protecting you against future problems.

Patients also choose soft tissue grafting to ease discomfort, as the graft covers exposed roots, decreasing sensitivity to hot and cold foods while protecting tooth roots against decay. There are also cosmetic reasons patients may choose this procedure, as augmenting receding gums restores the optimum tooth to gum ratio, improving the patient’s appearance.


Preparing for the Procedure

During your initial consultation, share your medical history with your periodontist, including both prescribed and over-the-counter medications. Follow your doctor’s pre-operative instructions to ensure optimum results. If you choose sedation, make transportation arrangements and arrange for time off work before your procedure.


The Procedure

Your doctor typically performs deep cleaning to remove tartar before beginning the procedure. Next, he or she administers anesthesia before making an incision to remove the donor tissue (the location depends on which graft type is necessary). Your doctor closes this incision before positioning the donor tissue at the affected area. Stitches secure the donor tissue in place. Alternatively, your doctor may create a small incision at the recipient site, placing the donor tissue in this pocket before suturing it closed.

The periodontist may apply biologics to stimulate tissue growth and healing before closing the incision. Finally, a dressing protects the area and controls bleeding.



Overall, healing takes approximately six weeks. Immediately following your surgery, ice packs manage pain, swelling, and bruising. Your periodontist may prescribe medication to manage pain, as well as an antibiotic to guard against infection. Restrict physical activity for the first few days following your procedure and follow your doctor’s post-operative instructions exactly.

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