Soft Tissue / Gum Grafts

When recession of the gingiva occurs around teeth or dental implants, the body loses a natural defense against both bacterial penetration and trauma. In patients with only minor recession, some healthy gingiva often remains and protects the teeth. This provides an effective seal against the continuous attack of bacteria on your jawbone, but when recession has eliminated that seal, the first line of defense against bacterial penetration is lost. Minor recession can often be treated effectively by modifying home care. However, when significant gum recession is a problem, gum reconstruction using grafting techniques is an option.

Risk Factors for the Advancement of Recession in Thin Tissue Include:

  • Genetics
  • Tooth brush abrasion/Aggressive tooth brushing
  • Periodontal disease
  • Biting overload (can occur from grinding or clenching your teeth)
  • Increased functional load (teeth that support bridges or partial dentures)
  • Poor bite alignment
  • Planned orthodontic therapy (braces)
  • Sensitive exposed roots
  • Root exposure with a high smile line (aesthetic concerns)
  • Ill fitting restorations under the gum line that are too deep, violating gum attachments (biologic width)

Once these contributing factors are controlled, a soft tissue gum graft can repair the defect and help prevent additional recession, bone loss and tooth loss.

Gum recession often results in root sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks, as well as an unsightly appearance of the gum and tooth/teeth. When significant, gum recession can predispose you to worsening recession and expose the root surface. This uneven gum line can lead to accumulation of bacterial plaque, root decay/cavities, root gouging and tooth loss.

Soft tissue grafts can be used to reconstruct gum tissue that is absent due to excessive gingival recession. This procedure can reduce further recession, bone loss and tooth loss by providing a stable band of attached gingiva around the tooth. In other cases, soft tissue grafts can cover exposed roots to protect them from decay. Other benefits include reduced tooth sensitivity, a more esthetically pleasing smile, and the ability to speak and eat with more comfort and confidence.


A soft tissue graft is designed to prevent additional recession. We begin the procedure by gently numbing the area with local anesthetic, then a thin piece of donor tissue is taken from the roof of your mouth or another donor source. In some cases, sterile donor tissue from a tissue bank may be used. The graft is adapted and secured into the recipient site with dissolvable sutures and glue stitch to create a wide band of stable gum tissue or to cover exposed roots. This can be done for individual or multiple teeth.


These procedures are a highly predictable method of providing a stable, healthy band of attached tissue around one tooth or multiple teeth to cover unsightly, sensitive or exposed root surface; to improve the esthetics of your smile; and to prevent future gum recession.

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