The present study was undertaken to analyze the role of attached gingiva for the maintenance of periodontal health in sites with normal and reduced height of the supporting apparatus. Furthermore, the effect of excision and grafting of gingiva on some parameters describing dimensions and location of the periodontal tissues was evaluated. 7 beagle dogs were used. A baseline examination comprised assessments of dental plaque, gingival conditions, attachment level, position of the gingival margin and width of the keratinized and the attached gingiva. In the right side of the jaws (experimental side) a 6-month period of periodontal tissue breakdown was followed by surgical excision of the entire zone of the gingiva. After another 4-month period of healing with daily plaque control, a gingival graft was inserted in one quadrant of the experimental side to regain a zone of attached gingiva while the other quadrant of the experimental side was left ungrafted. In the left side of the jaws (control side), the teeth were subjected to daily meticulous plaque control during the entire study. In one of the control quadrants the entire zone of the keratinized and attached gingiva was excised at a time point corresponding to the grafting procedure in the experimental side, while the gingiva in the remaining control jaw quadrant was left unoperated. Clinical examinations of all control and experimental tooth units were repeated at certain time intervals during the course of the study. The final examination was carried out 4 months after grafting. The results of the experiment showed that in sites exposed to careful plaque control measures gingival health could be established and maintained without sign of recession of the gingival margin or loss of attachment, independent of (1) presence or absence of attached gingiva, (2) width of keratinized gingiva or (3) height of the supporting attachment apparatus. Following surgical excision of the entire gingiva, all buccal sites regained a zone of keratinized gingiva, but most sites were lacking attached gingiva. Furthermore, grafting of gingival tissue significantly increased the width of the keratinized and the attached gingiva but had no obvious effect on the position of the gingival margin or the level of the attachment.
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