A frequent symptom of gum disease is gum recession (also called gingival recession). This can be caused by 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 from the roof of your mouth or another source 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.