There are two different types of gums around teeth. The first is called attached gingiva. Attached gingiva is thick, tough and does not move. Attached gingiva normally surrounds and protects the base of a tooth. The second gum tissue is called alveolar mucosa. Alveolar mucosa moves and has lots of visible small blood vessels. Alveolar mucosa does not protect the base of a tooth very well.
Because attached gingiva does not move, it is the preferred type of gingiva around dental implants. If there is no attached gingiva in the area that a dental implant is planned, a gum grafting procedure is usually performed to increase the amount of attached gingiva in the dental implant area. The gum grafting is done before the dental implant is placed.
There are lots of variations of gum grafting that each accomplishs a different kind of result. Occasionally gum grafting is performed around an existing dental implant that has lost it's attached gingiva. Sometimes the gums are plumped up around the front teeth to make a patient's smile more attractive. With dental implants, the most common use of gum grafting is to increase the zone of attached gingiva around a dental implant.