Gingival recession is a clinical problem that dental professionals face on a daily basis. Patients with gingeval recession have an increased risk of root caries, for which there are limited restorative options. A high lip line can be aesthetically unattractive and root exposure often causes dentinal hypersensitivity. This can significantly affect quality of life by limiting the types of foods patients can eat and sensitivity can interfere with normal hygiene procedures, leading to increased plaque accumulation while increasing the risk of further recession.
Over half the adult population has at least one site of gingival recession, so there is a significant burden of illness as a result.
When the gum has receded beyond the crown, and the root is showing, it is often desirable to re-cover the root surface. This is primarily done for cosmetics, but also if there is root sensitivity. There may also be a lack of attached (hard) gum tissue, and the root coverage surgery is designed to correct that problem at the same time.
When there is inadequate hard gum and root coverage is desired, a connective tissue graft is commonly done. This procedure is similar to the coronally positioned flap, except that a graft of connective tissue is sutured over the root before the flap is advanced.
The flap covers most or all of the graft, and provides blood supply to it. If a graft were just placed over the root without advancing a flap, there would be no blood from the root surface and the graft would die. The flap that covers the graft is able to provide the needed blood supply.