The Dangers of Root Exposure
Gum recession is a very common problem among most adults. Gum recession occurs when the gums move down the root of the tooth, exposing some of the root surface. This exposure can be problematic for several reasons. First, the exposed root surface is not covered with the enamel that covers the crown portion of the tooth. Enamel serves as a coat of armor to protect the tooth, but without this protection on the root, the root is much more susceptible to decay. Second, exposed root surfaces are often very sensitive to cold and touch. This makes things like brushing teeth or getting them cleaned uncomfortable. Third, exposed root surfaces wear away eight times faster than the crown of the tooth. This means that every time there is one pass of a toothbrush, it affects the root as if the toothbrush has passed over it eight times! This results in excess wear on the root surface that often leads to a restoration, even though there may not be a cavity present.
There haven’t always been easy options for patients with gum recession. Discussions about proper tooth brushing technique in order to prevent further recession are important. Unfortunately, the gums don’t grow back and it’s important to maintain them in a healthy manner that helps to prevent further recession. But what if they could grow back?
Gum grafting procedures have long been practiced in order to help patients grow back their gums. However, these procedures required taking the gums off of the roof of the mouth and transplanting them to the site of the recession. Although a successful technique, most patients were not too excited about having a hole in the roof of their mouth until it heals.
Now there is the option to use a material called AlloDerm. This is tissue that is obtained from a tissue bank. This tissue has had all cells removed, which means that rejection of the tissue is made impossible. It also means that there is no possibility of bacterial or viral presence in the tissue. Once the tissue has been placed at the area of gum recession, the AlloDerm stimulates regeneration of the patient’s own connective tissue! The patient’s own body will completely replace the AlloDerm with their own tissue in twelve months.
The benefits of using AlloDerm are that the symptoms of sensitivity, root decay, and toothbrush abrasion can now be addressed without having to remove tissue from the palate. Studies have shown that surgical outcomes with AlloDerm are the same as using the patient’s own tissue, withOUT the hole in the roof of your mouth!