Connective tissue grafting
David W. Engen, D.D.S., PS
Orthodontic Treatment, Adult Orthodontics, Orthodontic
The five main indications that you may need connective tissue grafting:
Esthetics: Recession of the gingival (gums) can result in unsightly yellow root exposure, as well as abnormally long appearing teeth. Connective tissue grafts can cover up most, and sometimes all of the recession that has taken place. Once the regenerated tissue has healed and matured the tooth will look more natural, with a beautiful, healthy appearance.
Inadequate gingiva: There are two types of tissue in your mouth. There is the tough, pink tissue called gingiva which is meant to be chewed and functioned on. The gingiva is found around the teeth as well as on the palate, and helps form a tight biologic seal around the tooth. The other tissue is the loose, flabby tissue found in your cheeks and lips. This loose, flabby tissue is not meant to be chewed and functioned on. If you do not have adequate gingiva you cannot form the tight biologic seal around the tooth. This will allow bacteria to enter into the pockets and cause infection and further recession. A connective tissue graft will regenerate a band of gingiva to reform the tight biologic seal around the tooth.
Pre-Orthodontic: You may have consulted with your orthodontist and were told you need to have connective tissue grafting done before you start your orthodontic (braces) treatment. This is especially important if you are going to have expansion, or if your teeth are going to be flared out. Sometimes recessions occur during active orthodontic treatment. If this is the case we can regenerate the tissue that has been lost to keep your orthodontics moving ahead.
Root decay: Patients with gingival recession are at greater risk for decay on their root surfaces. The white, hard tooth structure we see is enamel, and it is meant to be exposed to the oral environment. The root surface, which tends to be more yellow, is made of dentin which tends to be much softer than enamel. In patients with less than ideal home care this can pre-dispose them to decay on the root surface. Covering the roots back up will reduce your risk to root decay.
Tooth sensitivity: When roots are exposed this can cause the roots to be very sensitive to hot, cold, or touch. Just drinking a cold glass of water can be very unpleasant. Covering up the roots can go a long way towards reducing tooth sensitivity.
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