In health, there are two types of gum tissues that surround the tooth. The part that is around the neck of the tooth is firmly attached to the tooth and underlying bone, and is called attached gingiva. The attached gingiva is immovable and tough and deflects food as it hits the gum. Below the attached gingiva is looser gum, or alveolar mucosa. This tissue contains muscle and is flexible to allow movement of the checks and lips. The muscles in the alveolar mucosa are constantly contracting, which pulls on the bottom edge of the attached gingival. However, normally the attached gingival is wide and strong enough to act as a barrier which prevents the gum from being pulled down (receding).
Insufficient Attached Gum
Some people are born without sufficient attached gingival to prevent the muscle in the alveolar muscoa from pulling the gum down. In these cases the gum slowly continues to recede over time, even though the patient may be very conscientious with their oral care. This is not an infection, as is seen with periodontal disease, but rather simply an anatomic condition.
Unfortunately, bone recession is occurring at the same time the gum is receding. This is because the bone which is just under the gum, will not allow itself to become exposed to the oral cavity and moves down with the gum.
before and after gum grafting
Bone Grafting Overview
For a brief narrated overview of the bone grafting process, please click the image on the right. It will launch our flash educational MiniModule in a separate window that may answer some of your questions about bone grafting.
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