Gingival recession is a common problem found in mid age and elderly patients

Research has shown that gum recession around teeth occurs more frequently in women than men. Some contributing factors lead to this includes genetic make up of the mouth i.e. thin periodontium

[thin gums and lack of bone around teeth under the gum tissue], aggressive tooth brushing which is usually associated with someone that has a low build up of plaque and good oral hygiene at their recall appointment. We try to keep things as clean as possible and this can aggravate a tissue type that has little resistance to aggressive brushing; Para function [abnormal movement of the jaws causing teeth to grind together], clenching of teeth as well grinding of the teeth during sleep [bruxism] with a damaging force to teeth and surrounding gum tissue and supporting bone over a period of time.  In other instances, orthodontic movement can cause changes in the height of the gum tissue lead to recession in later life.

In cases where potential problems are diagnosed by the orthodontist, preventive gum grafting can be done prior to orthodontic treatment to pre-empt the recession from happening. It is often stressful for a Mom to hear that her child requires a gum graft to prevent potential problem in the future, but sometimes preventive maintenance goes a long way in maintaining good tissue health into adult hood.

Types of gum grafts and where they are used.

Historically, the most common gum graft used to help patients with recession is the Free Gingival Graft. This graft is obtained from the palate of the patient. It is the most superficial layer or surface of the palate that is taken. This is called Keratinized tissue. It is very tough and resistant to irritation. It was commonly used throughout the years to treat gum recession when it was detected. It was a stop gap procedure used to prevent any further exposure of the root.  However, this type of graft does not allow us to cover exposed roots.

The most common procedure used today to cover exposed roots is the Sub-epithelial/connective tissue graft. This graft is also taken from the palate of the patient but is obtained from the soft tissue that is just below the surface. This graft is used in areas where we want to try to recover root surfaces and or build up gum tissue thickness.

In the last few years, biotechnology has provided us with new regenerative materials which allow us to perform gum grafting. These materials have eliminated the need to harvest tissue from the palate and therefore reduced the morbidity of this procedure. The most common tissue used from gum grafting is called acellular matrix soft tissue graft or ALLODERM. It is a form of Connective tissue like the aforementioned one. It is inserted under the patient’s natural gum tissue in a minimally invasive approach. It is done in such a fashion as to “TUCK IT IN UNDER THE EXISTING TISSUE”. This enables the tissue to integrate and become part of our own tissue make up.

This type of regenerative material has expanded the capabilities of the dentist who do Gum surgery and gum grafting. The Limitless volume that can be obtained, the lack of discomfort to the patient in procuring the grafts has allowed us to treat many teeth and sites in the mouth that need strengthening. It can be used to treat situations before recession happens in what is called a “TUNNELING TECHNIQUE” or after recession has taken place and the objective of the procedure is to try to cover to some extent the exposed root surfaces. When gum recession occurs in the anterior area of the mouth, also called the “esthetic zone”, the situation becomes alarming for the patient. It is in these situations where this form of gum grafting can provide great esthetic, physiological and psychological results in not only gaining root coverage but also thickening and strengthening the gum tissue as a whole.

Application and usage
The advent of regenerative materials like ‘’allograft’’ combined with developments of minimally invasive techniques like the tunneling technique has allowed us to offer this type of procedure to our patients. So in a time of many dynamics influencing the possibility of gum tissue recession around teeth and with the female gender showing a higher prevalence of this happening I feel that it is our responsibility as health care professionals to allow you to be familiar with possible treatment modalities and some of their applications.

I hope this has provided you with some information that you can use and I wish everyone a healthy and sound oral health.

Thank you for your time. It has been a pleasure.

Dr. Leo Cain

Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

(506) 458-9669
Capital Dental Clinic
123 York Street, Suite 201
Fredericton, NB – E3B 3N6

About the Author/Dentist

Dr. Leo Cain first graduated from University of New Brunswick in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He then went on to the Dalhousie University, and graduated with a degree in Dentistry.

Dr. Cain started his practice in 1986 on Charlotte St and for the past 28 years has been a successful general practitioner performing cosmetic, surgical and restorative dentistry. Dr. Cain is excited to have moved his practice to 123 York St – Suite 201 and looks forward to serving you in the future.

He is a member of the prestigious American Academy of Aesthetic Dentistry and the American Academy of Periodontology.