There are two main types of gum tissue. One type is the attached tissue, which is the pink, firm gum that is attached to the bone. The other type is the unattached tissue, which is red and not attached to the bone. When the attached tissue is lost, you need a periodontal procedure called a soft tissue graft to stop further dental problems and gum recession, and/or to improve the esthetics of your gum line.
When the gum tissue has receded either from hard brushing, grinding, or from periodontal disease, the root surface gets exposed. This can cause an unaesthetic appearance as well as sensitivity to temperature and foods and liquids. If left untreated, this situation can lead to further bone loss and, possibly, tooth loss.
Soft tissue grafts can be used to cover exposed root surfaces. During this procedure, a piece of gum tissue is taken from your palate or another donor source to cover the exposed root. This can be done for one tooth or several teeth to even your gum line and reduce sensitivity.
A soft tissue graft can reduce, and in some cases eliminate, further recession and bone loss. Since the tissue covers the previously exposed root surface, it may result in reduced tooth sensitivity. If the defect was visible when smiling, the result is also esthetic.
Please see the Periodontal Gallery for the types of treatment that can be accomplished with gum tissue grafts.