A gingival graft is the name given for any of a number of surgical periodontal procedures whose goal is to cover an area of exposed tooth root surface with grafted oral tissue from another source. Other names for this procedure are gum graft or periodontal cosmetic surgery. Gum recession is a process in which the margin of gingival tissue that surrounds the teeth wears away in a direction toward the end of the root, exposing more of the tooth. This can cause damage to supporting bone. It is a common dental problem (Studies have shown about 75% of americans have some form of periodontal disease) that often goes unnoticed until it becomes more severe. Most people are not even aware that their gum tissue has receded since it is such a slow,gradual process. However, over time, an exposed tooth root can not only look ugly, but it can also cause tooth sensitivity. Tooth loss can occur eventually if the gingival tissue is not restored. To repair the damage and prevent further dental problems, a gingival graft may be needed. There are a few goals the dentist and patient are looking for when recommending or performing this surgery. They include:
1)Prevention of further root exposure.
2)To decrease or eliminate tooth sensitivity by covering the root area that was previously uncovered.
3)Decrease the possible incidence of root caries as the root is no longer exposed.
4)Improved aesthetics. This is especially true of teeth that are shown during smiling.
A gingival graft is very effective in solving the problem at hand but there is no guarantee that gum problems won't develop again. However, with regular dental checkups and careful at home maintenance, serious damage requiring further surgery can be prevented. Other ways to prevent periodontal disease include:
*Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. I recommend an electric toothbrush like the Rotadent.
*Maintain the schedule recommended by your dentist in regards to hygiene appointments. Usually a 6month recall schedule is the norm but it can more often depending on your situation. Ask your dentist what the best schedule is for you.
*Eat a well balanced and healthy diet.
*Do not smoke.
By Marielaina Perrone DDS
Henderson Cosmetic Dentist
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