Background: Vertical releasing incisions might damage the blood supply to the flap and result in unesthetic visible white scars. The aim of the present study was to compare root coverage and esthetic outcomes of the coronally advanced flap (CAF) with and without vertical releasing incisions in the treatment of multiple gingival recessions.
Methods: Thirty-two systemically and periodontally healthy subjects with esthetic complaints due to the exposure of Miller Class I and II multiple (at least two) gingival recession defects (> or =1 mm) affecting adjacent teeth of the same quadrant of the upper jaw were enrolled in the study. Sixteen patients (with 45 gingival recessions) were randomly assigned to the control group, and the other 16 patients (with 47 recession defects) were assigned to the test group. All recessions were treated with a CAF; vertical releasing incisions were performed in the control group, whereas an envelope-type flap was used in the test group. The patient's postoperative morbidity was assessed 1 week after the surgery, whereas the esthetic evaluation, made by the patient and independent periodontist, and the clinical evaluation were made 1 year later.
Results: Surgical time was significantly shorter in the envelope-type CAF group. No statistically significant difference was demonstrated between the two groups in terms of recession reduction and clinical attachment level gain. A statistically greater probability of complete root coverage (adjusted odds ratio, 3.76; 95% confidence interval: 0.92 to 15.33; P <0.05) and a greater increase in buccal keratinized tissue height were observed with the envelope type of CAF. Patient satisfaction with esthetics was very high in both treatment groups, with no statistically significant differences between them. A better postoperative course and better results in the esthetic evaluation made by an independent periodontist were demonstrated in patients treated with the envelope type of CAF.
Conclusions: Both CAF techniques were effective in reducing recession depth. The envelope type of CAF was associated with an increased probability of achieving complete root coverage and with a better postoperative course. Keloid formation along the vertical releasing incisions was responsible for the worst esthetic evaluation made by an independent expert periodontist.