The palatal masticatory mucosa is widely used as a connective tissue donor site in gingival recession treatment. However, concern has been raised regarding the potential risk of damaging the greater palatine artery (GPA) due to anatomical variations in the palatal vault. The anatomy of the palatal vault in terms of size and shape may affect the maximum dimensions of the graft that can be safely taken from the palatal vault. In a cohort of patients free of periodontal disease, the purpose of this study was to assess the maximum dimensions of the graft, particularly the height and length, that could be safely taken from the palatal vault.Methods:
Plaster impressions were made from 198 patients free of periodontal disease. Because the connective tissue graft is usually taken from an area extending from the mid-palatal aspect of the canine to the mid-palatal aspect of the second molar, this interval was measured and represented the maximum length dimension. The emergence of the GPA was assumed to be localized at the junction of the vertical and horizontal palatal walls of vault, and its course was marked on the plaster casts. The maximum height of the graft corresponded to the distances measured from the gingival margin to the marked course of the GPA of each tooth at its interproximal and mid-palatal aspects.Results:
The length of the maximum available tissue graft was 31.7 ± 4.0 mm. The distance extending from the gingival margin to the greater palatine artery ranged from 12.07 ± 2.9 mm at the canine level to 14.7 ± 2.9 mm at the mid-palatal aspect of the second molar level. Therefore, in the premolar area, it was possible to harvesta connective tissue graft measuring 5 mm in height in all cases and 8 mm in height in 93% of cases.Conclusion:
Our findings suggest that the maximum available tissue graft as measured in the palatal vault was large enough to allow a safe withdrawal from this donor site in a high percentage of our patient population free of periodontal disease. J Periodontol 2006;77:899-902.