Gum recession (also called gingival recession) can be caused by numerous things such as disease, vigorous brushing, grinding or clenching, or simply age and genetics. As the gums recede, more of the roots are revealed. This can make teeth appear longer and can also heighten sensitivity to hot or cold liquids or food.
More importantly, exposed roots increase vulnerability to increased damage as bacteria, plaque, and tartar attack the surface of the tooth and the root. This can lead to root decay, bone loss, and sometimes loss of the tooth.
The solution to this is a gingival graft. During this procedure, tissue is transplanted to the affected area, to cover the roots and restore the gum line to its original, healthy location. A soft-tissue graft protects your roots from decay and helps prevent additional tooth loss or further gum recession. This procedure often has the added result of aesthetic improvement.
In the past, grafts came from the roof of the mouth, but these days, acellular tissue--usually stem cells--are used to perform grafting. There are no cells, just a structural matrix for the patient's own cells to graft into, making the procedure much easier than other types of grafting, with enhanced healing time.