There are several surgical options to enhance the cosmetic appearance of one's mouth. These include procedures to cover exposed roots due to gum recession, cover exposed metal margins of fillings or increase the thickness of thin gingival tissue, procedure which alter the contours of the gingival tissue in order to even out the smile line, or procedures used to reduce bulky gum tissue that is un-esthetic. There are a number of operations that can be performed to enhance the appearance of the gingiva to produce a more balanced and harmonious smile. Gingival grafting is one of the more common procedures.
There are two types of gingival grafts; a free gingival graft, and a connective tissue graft. The type of graft taken depends on the type of gum defect as well as the purpose of the graft. Some are used for bringing the tissue back to a healthy state and in preparation for crowns or fillings that a dentist will place. Others are used for esthetic reasons simply to improve the appearance of one's smile. Additional reasons for the grafting include discomfort in the gums during tooth brushing or eating, to repair shallow root decay or root wear from aggressive tooth brushing, to prevent recession because of orthodontic tooth movement (although sometimes orthodontic treatment itself can repair recession and no grafting is needed), and to facilitate self-performed plaque removal. Before and after pictures of patients who have received these grafts are presented below.