When the gum tissue around the teeth starts to wear away or pulls back to the roots of the teeth, your teeth can become more sensitive and the receding gums can affect the quality of your smile. Gum recession can not only indicate the presence of gum disease, but also mechanical or functional problems that need to be addressed. Once the gums recede, they do not grow back; it is therefore important to prevent further recession of the gums. Without proper treatment, you may end up losing your teeth.
Since gum recession occurs so gradually, most people do not even realize they have receding gums until they can see the gaps or experience extreme tooth sensitivity. If your teeth appear longer than normal, it may be because the gums are pulled back and you can feel a notch or a small dent around the gum line. If you are noticing signs of gum recession, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. A dental professional can recommend a treatment plan that will prevent further gum tissue breakdown and take care of other oral health problems.
What Causes Gum Recession
Some of the key causes of gum recession include:
- Periodontal Disease - a bacterial infection of the mouth can destroy gum tissue and supporting bone
- Genetics - some people are simply predisposed to developing gum disease, no matter how good their oral hygiene practices may be
- Tooth Brushing Routine - if you brush too hard or use the wrong brushing technique, you could be wearing down the enamel of your teeth and making your gums recede
- Poor Dental Hygiene - when you do not brush and floss your teeth regularly, excessive plaque buildup can set the stage for gum disease, which can cause receding gums
- Hormonal Changes - changing hormone levels in women can make the gums more sensitive and may increase the risk of developing receding gums
- Using Tobacco Products - smoking and chewing tobacco products can cause plaque formation, which becomes difficult to remove without a diligent oral hygiene regimen and professional teeth cleanings.
- Grinding or Clenching the Teeth - putting too much pressure on the teeth can make your teeth shift and cause gum recession
- Crooked Teeth or Bite Misalignment - if the teeth do not come together evenly, there may be extra pressure on some parts of the gum and bone, which can eventually lead to receding gums
- Body Piercing - if you have your lips or tongues pierced, the jewelry could be irritating your gums and eventually wear them down
Gum Recession Treatment Options
If you have gum recession that is a result of periodontal disease, a dental professional can provide a deep cleaning that removes plaque and tartar buildup around the tooth and root surfaces below the gum line. In some cases, antibiotics are also administered to reduce harmful bacteria remaining the spaces between your teeth and gums.
If you have gum recession due to periodontal disease, mechanical, or functional factors, your dentist may recommend surgery to repair the damaged gum tissues. These procedures include:
- Pocket Depth Reduction - a gum doctor will fold back the affected gum tissue to remove the harmful bacteria from the pockets and then secure the gum tissue in place over the tooth root
- Regeneration - after a pocket depth reduction procedure, the doctor can use a regenerative material such as a membrane, graft tissue, or tissue-stimulating protein to promote natural bone and tissue regeneration in the affected area
- Soft Tissue Graft - grafting procedures involve applying tissue grafts from the mouth or a donor graft to the affected area to encourage gum tissue regeneration
Preventing Gum Recession
Taking good care of your mouth and sticking with a good oral hygiene regimen will help to prevent gum recession. Some other preventive measures include:
- Seeing your dentist or periodontist on schedule
- Quitting smoking/tobacco use
- Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet
- Using a soft-bristled toothbrush or an electric toothbrush
- Using the proper tooth brushing technique
- Correcting a misaligned bite or teeth grinding problems
- Monitoring changes occurring in your mouth
If you are concerned about receding gums, set up a consultation with your doctor today!