Do you ever wonder why these past few days your teeth appear a bit longer than normal? Maybe you are experiencing receding gums. When your gums starts to recede, the lower part of your teeth (roots) are exposed making your teeth appear longer. Receding gums are usually a sign of gum disease. This condition happens gradually and is accompanied with tooth sensitivity. Your gums recede because of the following factors: gum diseases, poor oral care, vigorous tooth brushing, teeth grinding, smoking, diseases like diabetes, heredity, and hormonal fluctuations in women.
When you suspect for gum recession, it is best that you consult with your dentist or better yet with your periodontist. He/she has the right training in dealing with gum issues. If recession is left untreated, the supporting soft tissues and bone structures around the teeth can be harmed and may lead to tooth loss. Mild receding gums could be treated with tooth scaling and root planing. However, in severe cases, soft tissue grafting or bone grafting procedure is done.
Soft tissue grafting is needed to treat receding gums. Its main goal is to cover the exposed lower part of the teeth or thicken the gum tissues in order to stop the existing gum recession. Your dentist will identify what type of soft tissue grafting procedure is best for you. The three types of grafting are:
- Free gingival graft – This procedure is done to thicken existing gum tissue. The graft is taken from the roof of the mouth (palate) and is sutured to the site where the tissue grafting is needed.
- Connective tissue graft – This procedure is done to cover larger areas of root exposure. Subepithelial tissues are removed from your palate and are sewn to the grafting site.
- Pedicle graft – The graft is taken from the soft tissues between the affected site and the adjacent gum. A pedicle (flap of the tissue) is partially cut away and moved to cover the exposed root and stitched into place.
Patients who have undergone soft tissue grafting experience increased comfort because the exposed root which causes tooth sensitivity is already covered after the procedure. Their smile has improved and their teeth appeared more symmetrical. And lastly, they have healthier gums.
Bone grafting is performed to recreate the bone loss from untreated gum diseases. The procedure uses fragments of bone to replace the bone destroyed by gum diseases. These bones are harvested from the patient, himself, from a cadaver or from the bone of a cow. Bone grafting is done to stabilize and recreate the jaw foundation for restorative surgery. It is also done to inhibit and prevent bone recession due to dental extraction, gum diseases and other invasive dental procedures.
It is very important that you take care of your gums to prevent gum recession. Have your dental check-up at least twice a year in order to detect early signs of receding gums. Prompt treatment should be done to prevent further soft tissue recession which may lead to bone loss.