What is a gingival or “gum” graft and where do they come from?

Please see above for our patient M.Y. before and after photos. Her roots are covered and tissue improved for a healthier and more aesthetic smile! Dr. Anderson used autogenous grafting with a tunneled approach.

Gingival grafts are used to cover exposed roots and create a stronger foundation for the teeth. Gum deficiencies can be corrected with tissue harvested from your mouth or from other sources. Depending on the presentation, there are 3 general graft materials. Please see below for grafting descriptions:

1. Autogenous “from self”.

These grafts are taken from the palate or roof of the mouth. Autogenous grafts can come from tissue on the surface of the palate (epithelium) or the layer below (connective tissue). Autogenous grafts are vital (living) and bring vascular (blood) supply and beneficial healing cells. Supply is limited to the anatomy of the patient and location/thickness of desired tissue on the palate.

2. Allograft “from another of the same species”.

Cadaver dermis or skin is sterilized to make it devoid of living cells, proteins, viruses, and bacteria. After treatment the graft slowly turns into your gingiva or gum and blends well with your tissue. Allografts are non-vital or non-living and do not provide vascular or blood supply. Supply is unlimited as it is custom ordered for each patient.

3. Xenograft “from another species”.

Much like the allograft, xenografts are sterilized and used in a similar manner. These grafts are derived from either bovine (cow) or porcine (pig) dermis (skin). Xenografts are non-vital (non-living) and do not provide a vascular supply. Supply is unlimited as it is custom ordered for each patient.

As a diplomate and board certified periodontist, Dr. Lauren Anderson provides services involving dental implants, periodontics, tooth loss, implantology, crown lengthening, cosmetic dentistry, and plastic surgery in Birmingham, Troy, Bloomfield Hills, West Bloomfield, Troy, Ferndale, Royal Oak, and surrounding Oakland County, Michigan. To schedule your consult please call (248) 480-4910

Case Presentation: KL Sub-Epithelial Connective Tissue Graft

Meet our patient KL. She is a systemically healthy 50 year old female who presented to our office with the chief concern to “Please cover my roots, they are yellow and make me look older than I am. They are also sensitive to temperature change and my dentist recommended you to re-grow the gum back”.

After verbal interview and clinical examination, Dr. Anderson determined that the etiology or “cause” of her recession was aggressive tooth brushing on thin gingiva or “gums” which are more prone to recession than thick gingiva. To regenerate KL’s soft tissue over the roots, Dr. Anderson used a minimally invasive technique to harvest KL’s tissues from her palate or “top of the mouth” and transferred this tissue to the teeth with roots exposed. This technique, known as a sub-epithelial connective tissue graft, was chosen and tailored for KL’s unique case presentation due to the high predictability, long-term success rate and superior esthetics. KL is happy with her results, enjoys her “more youthful smile” and reports the hot and cold sensitivity has gone away after Dr. Anderson regenerated the soft tissue. KL is now maintaining her results with proper brushing technique and a soft toothbrush.

Please see below for before and after photos of soft grafting of teeth in the upper right (#3-7) with Dr. Anderson.

Connective Tissue Graft Before and After


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