Objective: The use of connective tissue grafts is a proven, effective treatment modality. This study examines whether harvesting connective tissue grafts from the palate causes persistent sensory dysfunction.
Methods and materials: Fourteen patients who had received at least 1 graft were included. Neurosensory tests at the palate performed postoperatively included minimal 2-point discrimination, soft-touch discrimination, pin-tactile discrimination, and thermal discrimination. Measurements were taken at 3 sites each: 5, 10, and 15 mm from the palatal tissue margin at canines, premolars, and first molars.
Results: Eight patients had 1 graft, and 6 patients had 2 grafts harvested from their palate. Twelve patients had never noticed any dysfunction. Two patients reported a persistent numbness or a rough palatal surface. Statistically significant differences between donor sites and nondonor sites were shown by 2-point discrimination 5 mm from the margin of canines (6.57 mm +/- 3.79 mm at donor sites and 4.71 mm +/- 4.14 mm at nondonor sites, P = .01). Repeated-measures analysis of variance showed statistically significant differences between donor sites and nondonor sites for measurements taken 5 and 10 mm from the margin of all included teeth (P = .02).
Conclusions: Some sensory changes can occur after graft harvesting from the palate.