If you think your teeth look longer than they did before, it could be because of your gums. Gum recession happens for a number of reasons, from brushing your teeth with too much pressure to grinding your teeth. Your oral care habits, the alignment of your teeth, your lifestyle choices and your genes also play a part when it comes to receding gums.
Since gum recession affects the look of your smile and may knock your confidence, you might be wondering, can receding gums grow back? While receding gums don't grow back on their own, you can talk to your dentist or periodontist about the number of treatments available to correct the issue and prevent it from getting worse.
What Happens When Gums Recede?
Your gums are meant to protect your teeth and do so in two ways. First, the attached gingiva securely connects your teeth to the bone. Second, the unattached, or gingival mucosa protects the insides of your cheeks and gums. The edge of the gum tissue, which surrounds your teeth, is known as the gingival margin. When the margin pulls away from the teeth, it leaves the roots exposed and more susceptible to decay and tooth loss.
Do receding gums grow back? Unfortunately, no. Once the gum tissue has pulled back and away from the teeth, it's gone for good. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, it's just not possible for the gums to grow back.
Receding Gums Treatment Options
While your gums won't return on their own, there are a few ways to treat gingival recession. The most appropriate treatment depends on how advanced the recession is and whether you have symptoms of periodontal disease. If there is a considerable amount of recession, your dentist might recommend a gum graft to replace the lost tissue. Gum grafting is a surgical procedure that usually involves taking tissue from one area, such as the roof of the mouth, then transferring it to the gum area. If you have signs of gum disease, the dentist might also perform a deep cleaning of the teeth, to remove any bacteria and debris, before the tissue is attached.
Another method of treating receding gums is known as the pinhole surgical technique. A study published by the International Journal of Periodontics and Restorative Dentistry found that the technique, which involves manipulating existing gum tissue over the exposed roots, had a high incidence of success and patient satisfaction.
Preventing Further Recession
Once your receding gums are treated, it's important to find a way to reduce the risk of further recession. In cases where the recession is mild, your dentist might recommend focusing on preventing further recession, rather than treating the existing recession.
If the recession is due to vigorous brushing or using a hard-bristled toothbrush, your dentist might advise you to ease up on brushing and to use less pressure or force. Doing so won't correct the existing recession, but will make it less likely that your gums will continue to recede. One option is to switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush that helps protect enamel surfaces and gums, like the Colgate 360° Enamel Health Soft Toothbrush for Sensitive Teeth, instead of continuing to use a brush with hard or medium bristles.
Good oral care habits, such as brushing twice a day and flossing at least once daily, can also prevent additional gingival recession from occurring. If your receding gums are due to crooked teeth or a misaligned bite, correcting the bite or teeth can help slow or stop the recession. Since smoking and tobacco use increases your risk for receding gums, giving that up can also help prevent additional recession.
If you look in the mirror and notice that your teeth look longer or if you feel any sensitivity in your teeth due to receding gums, don't wait to see your dentist for advice and treatment. Your gums don't grow back, but there are ways to treat the issue to improve the look of your smile, boost your confidence and increase your oral health.