The addition of soft tissue replacement grafts in plastic periodontal and implant surgery: critical elements in design and execution

J Clin Periodontol. 2014 Apr:41 Suppl 15:S123-42. doi: 10.1111/jcpe.12185.


Soft tissue replacement grafts have become a substantial element to increase tissue volume in plastic periodontal and implant surgery. Autogenous subepithelial connective tissue grafts are increasingly applied in aesthetic indications like soft tissue thickening, recession treatment, ridge preservation, soft tissue ridge augmentation and papilla re-construction. For the clinical performance of connective tissue graft harvesting and transplantation, a fundamental understanding of the anatomy at the donor sites and a sound knowledge of tissue integration and re-vascularization processes are required. Possible donor sites are the anterior and posterior palate including the maxillary tuberosity, providing grafts of distinct geometric shape and histologic composition. The selective clinical application of different grafts depends on the amount of required tissue, the indication and the personal preference of the treating surgeon. One of the main future challenges is to volumetrically evaluate and compare the efficacy and long-term stability of soft tissue autografts and their prospective substitutes. The aim of this review was to discuss the advantages and shortfalls of different donor sites, substitute materials and harvesting techniques. Although standardized recommendations regarding treatment choice and execution can hardly be given, guidelines for predictable and successful treatment outcomes are provided based on clinical experience and the available scientific data.

Keywords: donor sites; graft harvesting; soft tissue augmentation; soft tissue replacement graft; soft tissue substitute; subepithelial connective tissue graft.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autografts / transplantation
  • Biocompatible Materials / therapeutic use
  • Connective Tissue / transplantation
  • Dental Implants*
  • Gingiva / transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Patient Care Planning
  • Periodontal Diseases / surgery*
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / methods*
  • Tissue and Organ Harvesting / methods
  • Transplant Donor Site / surgery


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Dental Implants