By the time you notice that your gums have receded—often making your teeth appear longer and your smile “toothy”—the damage has already been done. Gum recession is a gradual and irreversible process, meaning receded gum tissue can’t grow back. 

It happens due to gum disease-causing plaque build-up, as well as bad oral hygiene habits like over or aggressive brushing. When left untreated, gum recession exposes the roots of affected teeth, causing damage.

But that doesn’t mean it’s too late to fix the damage and protect your teeth, healthy gum tissue, and bone. Periodontists in Oakville can perform gum grafting to cover exposed roots and prevent further damage. Typically, they take a piece of tissue from another part of the mouth and graft it onto the affected area. In some cases, periodontists may use donor tissue.

Did your periodontist in Oakville recommend gum grafting to treat your gum recession? You might be wondering which type of graft you should get. Find out if donor tissue will provide the best results from your gum grafting procedure.

What are gum grafts?

Gum grafts are pieces of tissue, harvested from another part of your body or taken from a donor. They are grafted or attached to an affected area in your mouth where the gums have receded. Gum grafting is an excellent technique for regenerating lost gum tissue and repairing damage caused by gum recession. 

There are two options for gum tissue grafts: your own gum tissue, known as an autograft, and an allograft or tissue that comes from a donor. Let’s find out how each one works.

Types of Patient Tissue Grafts

These are gum grafts that come from your own soft tissue. There are 3 types of autografts, each recommended based on your specific needs:

  • Connective tissue graft: This gum graft involves creating a flap on the roof of your mouth to remove a small piece of connective tissue underneath.
  • Free gingival graft: Similar to a connective tissue graft, this is taken from the roof of the mouth. However, it doesn’t require a flap, so the outer tissue is used as a graft.
  • Pedicle grafts: Unlike the first two, this type of gum graft isn’t taken from the roof of the mouth. Instead, a pedicle graft uses healthy gum tissue, with a partially cut flap that allows it to be pulled over the exposed root and sewn in place.

What if I don’t have enough tissue?

During the consultation, your periodontist will examine the roof of your mouth, as well as surrounding gum tissue, to determine if either of them is thick enough to be harvested for a gum graft. Before any tissue is harvested, your periodontist needs to ensure that there will be enough tissue in the roof of your mouth or surrounding gums, so they remain healthy.

If they find that the tissue from your palate or surrounding gums is thin, that’s when your periodontist will recommend donor tissue. The graft comes from a tissue bank and is selected based on compatibility with the rest of your gum tissue. This ensures that any exposed root is adequately covered, with the graft blending in and appearing natural.

Types of Donor Tissue 

While gum grafting is commonly performed using your own soft tissue, periodontists also use donor tissue. Donor tissue grafts are recommended for treating extensive gum recession or multiple areas where the gums have receded. That’s because autografts are limited—you only have so much tissue in your mouth, which may not be enough to treat all areas.

There are two types of donor tissue used in gum grafting:

  • Allograft: This is donor tissue from the same species. That is, tissue from human cadavers, which are expected to blend well with your own gums. Prior to gum grafting, the donor tissue has already been sterilized to remove proteins, viruses, bacteria, and living cells.
  • Xenograft: This donor tissue is taken from another species, usually either bovine (cow) or porcine (pig). Xenografts are sterilized similar to allografts, and can also match your own gum tissue.

Pros and Cons of Donor Gum Grafts

At the end of the day, neither type of gum graft is better than the other. The best type of graft depends on your specific needs and the current condition of your gums and the structures of your mouth. But if you’re still weighing both options, here’s a summary of the pros and cons of using donor tissue for your gum grafting surgery.

Donor Graft Pros

  • Donor grafts can treat a larger area and/or multiple areas of receding gums, since there are a lot of donor tissues compared to the ones that can be harvested from your mouth
  • Since donor grafts don’t require cutting into the roof of your mouth or surrounding gums, the procedure limits discomfort
  • Donor grafts are thoroughly screened and sterilized to keep the tissue in excellent condition and ensure blending with your natural gums
  • Using donor grafts preserves your existing gum tissues and blood supply.

Donor Graft Cons

  • Unfortunately, donor tissue is not suitable for grafting onto parts where the teeth are inclined, rotated, and have experienced bone loss
  • Grafting donor tissue requires periodontists to invest in their training, since the procedure is technique-sensitive
  • Despite extensive examination, donor grafts may not always blend well or be 100% compatible with your existing gum tissue.

Ask Our Periodontists to Find Out the Best Gum Graft for You

Do you need gum grafting? You’ve come to the right place. At Periodontal Associates, we specialize in developing personalized treatment plans for gum grafting in Oakville. A major part of this is deciding on which type of graft is best for your case of gum recession—and whether using donor tissue provides the best results.

Our periodontists are dedicated to helping you make an informed decision. We will recommend the best type of graft for your needs and ensure you have all the information you need to prepare. You can count on us to be fully transparent and responsive to your specific needs throughout the gum grafting process.

Want to learn more about gum grafting? Find out how donor tissue works and whether it’s right for you. Contact Periodontal Associates in Oakville today.

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