Gingival recession (gum shrinkage) is a common condition caused by Periodontal Disease, trauma, aggressive tooth brushing or extremely malaligned teeth. The exposed tooth/root surfaces are prone to dental caries (tooth decay), increased tooth sensitivity and can look unsightly. A gingival grafting procedure by a Periodontist replaces the lost gingival tissue and addresses many of the issues surounding exposed tooth/root surfaces. However, many people (both patients and their dentists) are unfamilar with this treatment option, so unnecessary and sometimes detrimental dental procedures are performed to try and cover the exposed roots.
One such example of this was highlighted in a recent case study by Dr Gerry Clausen (MIPS Review, Autumn 2010). The case study described a young lady with exposed, discoloured and sensitive roots of a few of her front teeth. Her dentist proposed to cover the exposed roots with white fillings, and since no other treatment options were provided, the young lady agreed to this solution.
The post-treatment aesthetics were deemed to be less than acceptable, so a Periodontist was consulted, and in their opinion, a gingival grafting procedure was the preferred treatment option for her exposed root surfaces. The young lady returned to her dentist to have the white fillings removed so that a gingival grafting procedure could be performed. Dr Clausen stressed the importance of knowing the full range of treatment options available and of refering a patient to a specialist if required.
The young lady in this case could have avoided unnecessary dental work by being referred appropriately to a Periodontist. If you would like to learn more about gingival grafting procedures, please look under Cosmetic and Corrective Surgical Procedures.