These procedures are a fairly predictable way to cover unsightly, sensitive or exposed root surfaces, and to prevent future gum recession. When recession of the gingiva occurs, the body loses a natural defense against both bacterial penetration and trauma. With minor recession, some healthy gingiva often remains and protects the tooth, so that no treatment other than modifying home care practices is necessary. However, when recession reaches the mucosa, the first line of defense against bacterial penetration is lost. When gum recession is a problem, gum reconstruction using grafting techniques is an option.
In addition, gum recession often results in root sensitivity to hot and cold foods as well as an unsightly appearance to the gum and tooth. Gum recession, when significant, can predispose to worsening recession and expose the root surface, which is softer than enamel, leading to root caries and root gouging. A gingival graft is designed to solve these problems. A thin piece of tissue is taken from the roof of the mouth, or gently moved over from adjacent areas, to provide a stable band of attached gingiva around the tooth. The gingival graft may be placed in such a way as to cover the exposed portion of the root. The gingival graft results in a stable healthy band of attached tissue around the tooth.