New Product Removes Discomfort From The Soft Tissue Grafting ProcessNew Product Removes Discomfort From The Soft Tissue Grafting Process

In a healthy mouth, gum tissue is positioned up tightly against each tooth, protecting the tooth root beneath its surface from sensitivity, decay and disease. However, incorrect (aggressive) brushing or gum disease can cause gum recession where the gum tissue pulls away from the tooth leaving the root exposed. When a tooth root is exposed, it becomes sensitive to temperature changes as well as vulnerable to tooth decay and deterioration of the supporting jaw bone.

Soft tissue grafting is a procedure that dentists use for root coverage, soft tissue ridge augmentation and bone graft containment, which are all processes that may be required when gum recession or periodontal disease occurs. Until recently, the process was done by removing tissue from the soft palate of a patient's mouth and using it in the grafting procedure. Because tissue was being taken from one area of the mouth and being attached to another area, there were two surgical sites and a certain amount of discomfort was a part of the process. And at times, a patient did not have enough harvestable soft tissue to be able to fully complete the procedure.

Now, however, with the use of a product called AlloDerm® dentists no longer have to use a patient's own soft tissue to perform soft tissue grafting. AlloDerm® is placed on the area where tissue is required and it creates a foundation for new tissue regeneration. With AlloDerm® a dentist is not limited by the amount of tissue that can be harvested from a patient's soft palate and can therefore treat multiple sites in one single surgery. In a soft tissue ridge augmentation, which means that a gum ridge is being rebuilt, the dentist can actually create a tunnel or pouch beneath the area and insert multiple layers of AlloDerm® if needed.

Dentists often prefer using AlloDerm® instead of grafting a patient's own tissue for three strong reasons:

• Using AlloDerm® doesn't cause any discomfort to the patient that is typically associated for soft tissue grafting.

• The amount of grafting a dentist can do is not limited by the amount of soft tissue that can be harvested from the patient's soft palate.

• AlloDerm® "provides the missing components needed to restore health to damaged or receding tissue."

• The results are very similar to those achieved with palatal tissue.

• Over time, AlloDerm® allows regrowth of the patient's own healthy tissue.

AlloDerm® is created from donated human tissue that "has been processed to remove all cells, leaving behind a regenerative collagen matrix. Once the cells have been removed, the matrix is preserved with a patented freeze-drying process." The donor process undergoes the same stringent screening criteria that is used for organ donation (lung, heart, kidneys, etc.) and must pass rigid guidelines set by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

The amount of healing time that is required for soft tissue grafting that is done with AlloDerm® will vary from patient to patient, but the healing process begins shortly after surgery with significant signs of healing within the first two weeks. It may take as long as three to six months for the graft to completely heal at which time the gums will once again be snug against the teeth with the tooth root protected from sensitivity, decay and disease.
by Dr. Susan Wells
References and Bibliography
Dr. Susan Wells DMD has been a warrior dentist practicing dentistry in Warrior, Alabama since 1978.  She treats patients for all aspects of general dentistry including preventive dental care oral hygiene instruction and full scale exams and cleanings. To find out more visit her site at http://DrSusanWells.com.
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