Gum disease due to genetics or improper oral healthcare can cause the gum tissue to start to shrink. The shrinkage makes the gum tissue pull back or recede from the base of the teeth, which can leave the sensitive roots exposed and create the look of an overly toothy smile.
Gum recession isn't reversible but catching minor gum recession in time means that you can prevent the problem from worsening with increased focus on oral healthcare. But severe gum recession will require help from your family dentistry office to keep the problem from worsening and to offer protection for your teeth. The treatment is typically gum grafting but there are a couple of different types of grafting that might be used depending on your situation.
Free Gingival Grafting
Free gingival grafting uses tissue fully cut away from the roof or soft palate of your mouth. The donor tissue is stitched onto the areas of severe gum recession. After a period of healing, the two sections of tissue will have healed together to form one piece.
Note that the free part refers to the fact that the donor tissue is a fully removed piece of layered tissue. The donor tissue is typically taken from your own mouth but can also be made of a synthetic material or come from a human or animal donor. These outside sources are typically used if you lack enough healthy soft tissue to donate the tissue yourself.
When donor tissue is taken from your own mouth, the donor site will need its own healing time as the area will feel a bit like a burn. Your dentist will cover the removal site with a thin piece of plastic that you can place whenever you eat to keep food from rubbing on the sore area. The donor site will heal up over a brief period of time and then you can ditch the plastic.
Connective Tissue Grafting
Connective tissue grafting also uses donor skin from the roof of your mouth. But instead of cutting away a small section of tissue, your dentist cuts an opening into the top tissue to remove a section of connective tissue underneath. This tissue is then used to cover the roots of teeth exposed due to severe gum recession.
This tends to be one of the most common types of grafts as the removal site doesn't require any substantial healing time and the thick connective tissue is a great insulator for the formerly exposed roots.
As with free grafts, the connective tissue can come from outside sources if you lack sufficient tissue in your own mouth. Talk to a local dentist, like Market Street Dental PC, for more information.