Receding gums occurs when gum margin that surrounds teeth begins to wear away or regress, exposing tooth enamel or the tooth’s root. Receding gums may be an indication of gum disease. When this process occurs, pockets begin to develop between teeth and the gum line. The formation of pockets allows gum disease causing bacteria to build up. When left untreated, supporting gum tissue and bone structures will deteriorate and can lead to permanent loss of teeth.
Receding gums is a common oral health complication. Individuals with this condition are often unaware of the state of their gum tissue since recession of the gums occurs rather gradually. Patients may begin to notice tooth sensitivity, or an elongated tooth. These signs are typically associated with gum recession.
Receding gums is an oral health complication which should not be ignored. Patients who suspect that their gums are receding should schedule an appointment with our periodontist immediately. Specialized treatments can help repair and prevent further damage to gum tissue.
Why Do Gums Recede?
There are numerous factors leading to receding gums including the following:
- Periodontal Disease: Bacterial gum infections destroy gum tissue and supporting bone structure, causing gums to gradually regress. When gum disease is left untreated, not only will gum recession occur, tooth loss will be inevitable.
- Genetics: Studies suggest that 30% of the population may be predisposed to the development of gum disease, regardless of their oral hygiene habits.
- Aggressive tooth brushing: Teeth that are brushed with too much force or with improper technique may be susceptible to enamel wear. Not only will enamel be completely worn, gum recession will also occur.
- Inadequate Dental Care: Improper brushing and flossing will cause the formation of tartar, which is an extremely hard substance that can only be removed by our periodontist. Tartar can easily buildup in between teeth, causing gum recession.
- Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations in a woman’s hormone levels during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can cause gums to become more sensitive and more susceptible to gum recession.
- Tobacco Products: Those who use tobacco products are more inclined to have plaque on the surfaces of their teeth. The buildup of plaque can also lead to receding.
- Tooth Grinding and Clenching: When clenching and grinding, a lot of force is placed onto teeth, causing gums to recede.
- Misaligned Teeth: Misaligned teeth can lead to uneven distribution of bite force. This will cause too much force to be placed onto certain areas of gum and bone tissue, allowing gum recession to occur.
- Body Piercing: Lip or tongue jewelry can easily rub gum tissue and cause irritation to soft tissues. Over time, gum tissue can be worn away.
How is Receding Gums Treated?
Mild gum recession can be effectively treated with a deep cleaning. During this process, plaque and tartar buildup can be removed from the tooth’s surfaces, including below the gum line. Once tooth roots have been cleaned of harmful bacteria, the exposed area is smoothed in order to prevent the reattachment of bacteria.
If gum recession cannot be treated with deep cleanings due to excessive bone loss and deep periodontal pockets, surgical procedures may be required in order to repair damaged tissues caused by gum recession.
What Type of Surgery is Used to Treat Receding Gums?
The following procedures are used to treat receding gums:
- Pocket Depth Reduction: This procedure requires the periodontist to gingerly pull back gum tissue in order to completely remove harmful bacteria from the deep pockets. Gum tissue is then secured placed against the tooth root, eliminating pockets and reducing their size.
- Regeneration: When the destruction of bone has occurred as a result of gum recession, regenerative procedures may be necessary to help restore damaged bone and gum tissue. Once bacteria have been removed from the surgical site, regenerative materials such as membrane, tissue stimulating protein, or grafting tissue will be applied to encourage the body’s natural response to regenerate bone density and gum tissue. After the placement of regenerative materials, gum tissue will be secured over the root of the teeth.
- Soft Tissue Graft: There are a few types of gum tissue graft procedures; however, connective tissue graft is the most commonly used. In this particular procedure, skin is harvested from the palate of the mouth. Tissue will then be secured to gum tissue surrounding exposed tooth root.
How Can I Prevent Receding Gums?
Gum recession is prevented by taking good care of your oral cavity. Brushing and flossing daily is essential to maintaining your oral health. Be sure to use a soft bristled brush and brush with proper technique to avoid damaging tooth enamel and gum tissue. Visit our periodontist annually for a dental examination and biannually for professional cleanings.