Tissue grafting is a technique in which one type of tissue is moved (transplanted) to another area of the mouth. This technique is used to treat gingival recession. The recession can come from periodontal disease, occlusion (bite problems), malocclusion, or from aggressive tooth brushing. There are two types of tissue around teeth- attached tissue and mucosal tissue. The attached tissue is the firm, pink tissue close to the teeth and is vital in maintaining health around the teeth. The mucosal tissue is loose, thin and located further away from the teeth. When the gums recede, there is a loss of the attached tissue. This can compromise the health of the tissue and lead to bone problems around the teeth. The zone of attached gingiva is one of the most important defense mechanisms the body has against gum disease.
Treatment of loss of attached tissue is most commonly done using a tissue graft. This procedure involves taking attached tissue from another part of the mouth and moving it to the area where the tissue defect exists. This is called a free gingival graft. In a lateral pedicle graft, attached tissue is taken from the area immediately beside the area where the tissue defect exists. The area which donates the tissue will heal and fill back in with more attached tissue. This procedure helps rebuild some of the lost tissue to maintain health of the gums and teeth.