Glossary of Dental Terms

Gingival Graft (Gum Grafts / Soft Tissue Graft)

A gingival (gum) graft is designed to be taken from the roof of the mouth, or taken from other non-autogenous donor sources, to provide a stable band of attached gingiva around the tooth. This barrier prevents further recession and infection. This process also eliminates marginal inflammation, which is usually associated with a mucosal marginal gingival tissue. When recession of the gingiva occurs, the body loses a natural defense against both bacterial penetration and trauma. When there is only minor recession, some healthy gingiva often remains and protects the tooth, so that no treatment other than modifying home care practices is necessary. However, when recession reaches the mucosa, the first line of defense against bacterial penetration is lost. For more severe gingival recession no matter how meticulously the patient tries to control the bacteria, there is a greater chance of bacteria penetrating and affecting the underlying supporting bone around the tooth. In addition, gum recession often results in root sensitivity to hot and cold foods as well as an unsightly appearance of the gum and tooth. Also, gum recession, when significant, can predispose to worsening recession and expose the root surface, which is softer than enamel, leading to root caries or root decay and root gouging.

Bone Graft

Bone grafting is performed to reverse the bone loss/destruction caused by periodontal disease, trauma, or site preparation for future dental implants, such as augmenting bone in the sinus area for implant placement, or to enhance esthetics of a missing tooth site in the smile zone. When one loses a tooth, as in an extraction, the surrounding bone collapses. To preserve this bone for future implant placement or for esthetics, a bone graft is used.

Esthetic Crown Lengthening/Gingival Sculpting

Sometime the teeth are quite small in relation to the gingival “gum” tissue. This can create an unattractive “gummy” smile. An uneven gum line can also be distracting. The gum line, and the bone just beneath the gum line, can be altered to change the appearance of your smile. This can create a more even gum line or make the teeth appear longer. Gingival (gum) contouring” is the process of recontouring the gum only. “Crown lengthening” refers to recontouring of both gum and supporting bone.

Sinus Lift

A sinus lift is surgery that adds bone to your upper jaw in the area of your molars and premolars. It’s sometimes called a sinus augmentation. The bone is added between your jaw and the maxillary sinuses, which are the air spaces on either side of your nasal cavity. To make room for the bone, the sinus membrane has to be moved upward, or “lifted.” A sinus lift usually is done by a specialist, and can be done in the office under local anesthesia.

Dental Implants

A dental implant is a titanium artificial root that replaces a tooth that was lost due to decay, trauma, periodontal disease, etc. After placement, the dental implant will remain “unloaded” for a few months time to allow the implant to properly osseointegrate. After this “healing” period, your general dentist will color match and work with you to help you get your desired smile and esthetic outcome. Dental Implants can be used to replace any tooth in the mouth and can provide an excellent long term/life long solution to missing, fractured, or failing teeth.

Periodontal Therapy

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