Gum recession. It's not a decline in chewing gum sales across the country. Nope. We're talking about your gumline slowly pulling away from your teeth, making them appear longer and ultimately exposing your roots — a significant sign of gum disease. Receding gums, or gingival recession, can be caused by various factors; some you can control, and others are out of your hands. Receding gums cannot grow back. However, your dentist or periodontist can help you treat and prevent them from getting worse — which is something to smile about!
Receding Gums: Treatment and Causes
What Happens When Gums Recede?
Your gums are meant to shield and shelter your teeth in a variety of ways. Here's how:
- The attached soft tissue known as gingiva attaches your teeth to the connective tissue that protects your teeth and bone
- Your unattached gingival mucosa protects the inside of your gums and cheeks, as it's a movable elastic gum tissue
- Your gingival margin is at the edge of your gumline, enclosing and protecting your teeth.
Gum recession occurs when:
- Your gingival margin moves away from your teeth and exposes the root
- An exposed root with less calcified cementum to protect it can lead to tooth cavities and tooth sensitivity, as your tooth nerve endings are exposed.
If you think you may be experiencing receding gums, contact your dentist or periodontist to prevent further recession and work with them to implement a treatment plan.
What Causes Gum Recession?
Any of the following factors can trigger gum recession.
- Poor Oral Health
- If you have too much plaque build-up between your teeth and gums, the germs within it can cause your gums to become inflamed, leading to tooth loss or gum recession.
- Aggressive Brushing And Flossing
- Over-brushing and over-flossing can damage teeth and gums. Try focusing on technique and making sure to brush your teeth with a soft-bristled brush; floss correctly without causing soreness or bleeding.
- The genetic makeup you inherit from your parents could be influencing your gum recession.
- Abnormal Tooth Positioning
- Unaligned teeth or bite can also lead to gum recession.
- Grinding And Clenching Your Teeth
- Grinding or clenching your teeth, also known as bruxism, usually occurs while sleeping and can easily be remedied with a mouthguard to avoid gum recession, tooth sensitivity, or loss.
- A violent strike or significant trauma to your gums or surrounding teeth could cause the gums to recede.
- Tobacco Usage
- Smoking and other tobacco products are directly implicated in receding gums.
What Are Receding Gums Treatment Options?
Will your gums ever grow back? They will not. But can you treat them to improve their health and your smile? Absolutely. There are several treatment options. Work with your dentist and/or periodontist to see if one of these options is right for you.
- Deep Cleaning — It's not just more intensive dental cleaning. Deep cleaning consists of scaling and root planing, where special instruments are required to eliminate the plaque and tartar at the roots where your gums are receding.
- Gum Contouring — A procedure that can improve your gum health and your smile's line is gum contouring. Your periodontist will construct a newer, straighter gumline with a laser or scalpel, which helps keep the gum tissue healthy and easier to clean.
- Gum Grafting — Gum grafting is a surgical procedure where your periodontist removes tissue from a different area of your mouth, often your palate, and applies it to your tooth and exposed root. Recovery can take up to a week or so as the graft from your palate or other gum tissue needs time to heal. Avoid eating hard, chewy foods during that time, and do not initially brush near the graft.
- Regeneration Therapy — A more modern approach to treating receding gums is regeneration therapy. Your gum tissue gets pulled back, and a bone graft or other regenerative material gets placed where the bone has deteriorated. Regeneration is usually a last resort when significant gum and bone tissue damage occurs from periodontal disease.
How Do You Prevent Further Gum Recession?
Fending off gum recession often comes down to the basics of proper oral hygiene:
- Brush twice a day
- Floss daily
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Apply proper brushing technique to help protect your enamel and gums.
If your gums are receding due to factors out of your control, talk to your dentist or periodontist about possible treatment.
Receding gums cannot grow back, unfortunately. But with proper care and treatment by your dentist, periodontist, and yourself, your confidence and smile can be restored.