Soft tissue and bone grafting are not the most common or well-known dental procedures. Nevertheless, you may need them at some point during your lifetime. Here’s what you need to know about both of these treatments and what it means to be a suitable candidate for each procedure.
Soft tissue grafts are used to stop or reverse the effects of gum recession which occurs as a result of moderate to severe periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is an inflammatory condition that affects the soft tissue of the gums, causing it to become infected by bacteria. If the infection is allowed to progress, it can cause the soft tissue to deteriorate and pull away from the base of the teeth, exposing the roots and leading to further problems that could compromise the patient’s ability to retain the tooth.
A soft tissue grafting procedure is carried out using a local anesthetic, sometimes along with sedation. The process involves removing some of the soft tissue from another part of the mouth, usually the palate on the roof of the mouth, and grafting it onto the area of the gums that requires attention using sutures. It can take some weeks for the gums to heal, and during this time you will be given specific instructions to follow to help you to look after them and ensure you have minimal risk of complications.
You may be referred for soft tissue grafting is you have receding gums that are exposing the roots of your teeth. Whilst it is primarily recommended for patients who have advanced periodontal disease, some patients who have healthy gums but who have teeth that appear particularly long may also choose to have gum grafting performed for purely cosmetic reasons.
Your dentist will assess your suitability for soft tissue grafting by assessing the visible condition of your gums, as well as checking:
You are in good general health
You have good oral health and do not require any dental work
You are able to have local anesthetic (and sedation if needed)
You are taking steps to get your gum disease under control
Bone grafting is typically recommended for patients who are interested in receiving dental implants but are found to have an insufficient healthy bone to support them. Dental implants rely on healthy bone as when they are placed, the bone heals around the implant post to anchor it permanently to the jaw. This element underpins the entire process and without it, the dental implant can come loose and fall out. Bone grafting typically takes place several months before implants are placed as they need this time to heal.
Bone grafting is usually carried out using a local anesthetic, but it may be possible for you to have sedation if required. Once you are suitably anesthetized, your surgeon will either remove a piece of bone from another part of your jaw or use an animal source for the procedure. This bone is grafted onto the area where it is required and secured in place using sutures. Since bone contains live cells, these will prompt regeneration, enabling patients to grow enough new bone to support the placement of a dental implant.
You may be recommended for bone grafting if you are wanting to have dental implants, but your consultation reveals that you don’t have enough healthy bone in your jaw. To undergo the procedure, you will also need to:
Be in good general health
Have good oral health with no need for any dental work to bring it up to standard
Have no signs of gum disease
Be able to undergo anesthetic safely
If you would like to learn more about either soft tissue or bone grafting, or if you think you may need either of these procedures and would like to discuss your candidacy, please get in touch with our dental team in Clearwater, FL.