Guided tissue regeneration is a dental procedure designed to counteract the damaging effects of gum disease, a condition impacting millions of Americans. Recent statistics show that nearly half of adults over 30 in the U.S. suffer from some form of gum disease. That’s a lot! In this article, we’ll go over the process of guided tissue regeneration, helping you have a clear understanding of its symptoms and when it’s needed. If you live in the Salt Lake area and need guided tissue regeneration, click the button below to request an appointment. 

What is Guided Tissue Regeneration? 

Guided Tissue Regeneration (GTR) is a dental procedure designed to encourage the growth of new bone and gum tissue in areas where it has been destroyed by periodontal (gum) disease. The essence of this technique lies in its ability to regenerate lost tissues and bone, rather than just repairing or healing the existing damaged tissues. 

How Does It Work? 

Here’s a simplified breakdown of how it works: 

  • Targeting Specific Areas: GTR is used in areas where the bone and gum tissue have been destroyed. This destruction is often a result of periodontal disease, which causes pockets to form between the teeth and gums, leading to bone loss. 
  • Barrier Membranes: The procedure involves placing a small, biocompatible membrane between the bone and the overlying gum tissue. This membrane acts as a barrier, preventing the faster-growing gum tissue from filling in the area where the bone should be regenerating.
  • Encouraging Regrowth: By keeping the gum tissue out of the way, the membrane allows the slower-growing bone and connective tissue to repopulate the area, effectively regenerating the lost tissue. 
  • Biodegradable Options: These membranes can be either resorbable (they break down and are absorbed by the body over time) or non-resorbable (they need to be removed in a subsequent procedure). 
  • Complementary Procedures: GTR is often used in conjunction with other periodontal procedures to enhance the overall outcome, particularly in cases of severe gum disease.
  • Benefits: The primary benefit of GTR is the regrowth of bone and tissue, which can help in stabilizing teeth, reducing pocket depth, and in some cases, preparing the jaw for dental implants. 

What is Guided Bone Regeneration and How Is It Different?

1. Guided Tissue Regeneration (GTR): This technique primarily focuses on regenerating periodontal ligament and gum tissue. It’s typically used in the treatment of periodontal disease where there has been a loss of the soft tissue and ligament that support the teeth. GTR involves placing a barrier membrane to prevent the fast-growing gum tissue from invading the space where the slower-growing periodontal ligaments and bone should regenerate. The goal is to create an environment that allows the regrowth of these specific tissues to better support the teeth. 

2. Guided Bone Regeneration (GBR): GBR, on the other hand, is specifically focused on regrowing bone tissue. This technique is often used in preparation for dental implants or in cases where bone loss has occurred due to periodontal disease, trauma, or tooth extraction. Like GTR, GBR also uses barrier membranes. These membranes prevent unwanted tissues from entering the bone defect area, thereby creating a secluded space that encourages bone cells to populate and regenerate the lost bone.

How To Know If You Need It? 

Determining whether you need Guided Tissue Regeneration primarily hinges on the extent of damage caused by periodontal disease and the specific conditions of your oral health. It’s important to consult with a dental professional, preferably a periodontist, who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of gum disease. They will conduct a thorough examination, including measuring the depth of gum pockets and assessing bone loss through x-rays, to determine if GTR is suitable for you. 


  1. Receding Gums: Noticeable pulling back of gums from your teeth, making the teeth appear longer than usual. 
  2. Deep Gum Pockets: Gaps or pockets forming between your teeth and gums, which are deeper than normal. Healthy gums typically have pockets of 1-3 millimeters, but deeper pockets might indicate serious gum disease. 
  1. Loose Teeth: Movement or loosening of teeth, which can be a result of bone loss due to periodontal disease. 
  2. Gum Inflammation and Bleeding: Swollen, red, or tender gums that bleed easily, especially during brushing or flossing. 
  3. Persistent Bad Breath: Ongoing bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth can be a sign of periodontal disease. 
  4. Changes in Bite: A noticeable change in the way your teeth fit together when biting, or in the fit of partial dentures. 
  5. Tooth Sensitivity: Increased sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks, which could be due to gum recession exposing the tooth roots. 
  6. Visible Bone Loss: In advanced cases, you might see evidence of bone loss around your teeth. 
  7. History of Periodontal Disease: If you’ve had treatments for gum disease in the past, you might be more susceptible to conditions that require GTR. 

What to Expect After Surgery 

After Guided Tissue Regeneration surgery, the initial phase of recovery is crucial for the success of the procedure. Patients typically experience some discomfort, swelling, and possibly minor bleeding, which are normal and manageable with care instructions provided by the dental specialist. It’s important to follow a soft diet and maintain gentle oral hygiene during this period. Using special mouthwashes is recommended to keep the area clean without disturbing it. 

The weeks following the surgery require careful attention to the healing process. Activities that could impact the surgical site, like smoking or using straws, should be avoided, as they can interfere with healing. Regular follow-up appointments are essential for monitoring progress and, if necessary, removing non-resorbable membranes. Adhering to these post-operative guidelines is key to ensuring the best possible outcome. The total healing and tissue regeneration process can take several months, during which it’s normal to feel anxious about the progress. However, GTR has a high success rate, and with patience and listening to your dental care team’s advice, the results can be very positive. Maintaining good overall health and communication with your dentist will greatly aid in your recovery and the effectiveness of the treatment. 

The Guided Tissue Regeneration Guide Conclusion 

Guided Tissue Regeneration is an innovative and effective dental procedure designed to combat the effects of periodontal disease. It offers hope for those suffering from this common yet serious condition. Recovery from GTR requires careful management and patience, as the healing process plays a critical role in the treatment’s success. 

If you’re noticing signs or symptoms of gum disease or periodontitis, don’t hesitate to reach out to Utah Periodontal Specialists. Our team of experienced doctors is well-equipped to provide the expert care you need. Trust in our years of experience and commitment to excellence in periodontal treatment, ensuring that you receive the best possible care for your oral health needs.