Receding gums and root exposure and their management through soft tissue grafting

Gingival recession or receding gums are one of the consequences of periodontal bone loss. However, gingival recession can also be due to developmental reasons or even due to anatomical alterations resulting from orthodontic treatment. In any of these situations, when the underlying bone is lost or thinned out, the gingival architecture changes resulting in gingival recession and root exposure.

There are three major consequential outcomes of gingival recession leading to exposed roots:

1. Esthetic concerns, especially when high smile-line is present which will make the teeth appear longer in the areas of recession

2. Dental hypersensitivity resulting from root exposure and exposed dentin surfaces on roots

3. Poor plaque control due to the lack of firm gingival tissue around the areas of root exposure that could lead to caries or decay of roots.

Many types of gingival recessions can be managed by regenerating the lost gum tissue through muco-gingival and root coverage surgical procedures. These are accomplished by harvesting tissue from the palate or roof of the mouth and grafting at the sites of gingival recession. Today, with the advent of advanced tissue engineering technologies, we are not too far from growing individualized gingival tissues using progenitor cells and subsequently manage gingival recession and root exposures with minimized surgical trauma.

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