A relatively simply gum graft procedure can help make “long in the tooth” patients look younger. Dr. Alan Farber and his team of periodontists at Farber Center help patients every day choose the right procedure for them.
What is Happening to my Teeth?
As periodontal disease progresses over time, the supporting bone begins to shrink due to the disease process, and then the gum tissue follows the bone. This process of gums shrinking or pulling away is called gingival or gum recession. I use an analogy of carpet lying on the subfloor. If the subfloor caves in, the carpet follows. That is what happens when you have periodontal disease. You start to see more of the tooth because the bone resorbs and the gum tissue follows.
What Does “Long in the Tooth” Mean?
Years ago, as patients got older, they used the term “long in the tooth.” The teeth are not getting longer, but they appear to be longer because the gums and supporting bone are receding. Sometimes this condition also appears in patients who clench or grind their teeth.
What is the Right Treatment?
Depending on the diagnosis, I will create an appropriate treatment plan. If it is just a question of gum recession–showing a little more root—then there are procedures called soft tissue or gum grafts that can be used to cover up the long looking teeth and make patients look younger.
There are different types of gum grafts, and fortunately today with the advancement of science, we sometimes do not have to use the patient’s own tissue. We can use donated tissue, and by using the patient’s own blood growth factors, we can have an almost exact match of the tissue. After treatment, patients come to me and they say, “I don’t even know where the graft is, because it looks so natural. It perfectly matches my gum tissue.”
When you have recession, many times there is something we can do to correct the problem. When you have teeth and gums that look natural, your face has a younger look.