Gum recession affects over 50% of the population and until recently meant a life of sensitiviy to brushing, avoiding acidic foods and using high-fluoride toothpastes; nothing could be done about the condition itself.

done about the condition itself.

Gum recession happens due to loss of bone to either the upper or lower jaw and can be brought on by gum disease, accident or as a by-product of tooth extraction which can reduce bone density in the area.

All that changed a few years ago when Swiss and German researchers began grafting tissue from the palate to the affected area. The downside of this procedure is that the patient would have two wound sites to heal up increasing the risk of infection and a painful recovery.

The introduction of graft material from bovine sources has remedied the need for grafting from the patient. The material is taken from cows especially bred in Austrailia for this purpose. All organic tissue is removed leaving just the calcium compounds from the bone itself.

It is important to note that Australia has never had a single case of BSE.

The graft material is placed in the affected area which acts as a scaffolding for the bone to grow into. The scaffold structure guides the bone growth so it appears just where it is needed.

This technique can also be used to enable the placement of implants into the upper jaw below the sinus cavity. At this site bone is quite thin and may not support the implant otherwise.

For those who don’t like the idea of using bovine material a purely synthetic graft material can be used instead.

Image: Magnified graft material showing ‘scaffolding material’.