About Gum Recession
Gum recession is the process in which the margin of the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth wears away, or pulls back, exposing more of the tooth, or the tooth’s root. When gum recession occurs, “pockets,” or gaps, form between the teeth and gum line, making it easy for disease-causing bacteria to build up. If left untreated, the supporting tissue and bone structures of the teeth can be severely damaged, and may ultimately result in tooth loss. Gum recession is a common dental problem. Most people don’t know they have gum recession because it occurs gradually. The first sign of gum recession is usually tooth sensitivity, or you may notice a tooth looks longer than normal. Typically, a notch can be felt near the gum line. Gum recession is not something you want to ignore. If you think your gums are receding, make an appointment with your dentist. There are treatments that can repair the gum and prevent further damage.
What causes Gum Recession?
These are bacterial gum infections that destroy gum tissue and supporting bone that hold your teeth in place. Gum disease is the main cause of gum recession.
Some people may be more susceptible to gum disease. In fact, studies show that 30% of the population may be predisposed to gum disease, regardless of how well they care for their teeth.
Aggressive tooth brushing. If you brush your teeth too hard or the wrong way, it can cause the enamel on your teeth to wear away and your gums to recede.
Insufficient dental care.
Inadequate brushing, flossing, and rinsing with antibacterial mouthwash makes it easy for plaque to turn into calculus (tartar) — a hard substance that builds on and between your teeth and can only be removed by a professional dental cleaning. It can lead to gum recession.
Fluctuations in female hormone levels during a woman’s lifetime, such as in puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, can make gums more sensitive and more vulnerable to gum recession.
Steps to prevent Gum Recession
- Seeing your doctor for regular cleanings & checkups
- Not smoking or using other tobacco products
- Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet
- Using the proper brushing techniques with a soft-bristled toothbrush or an electric toothbrush
- Seeing your doctor to correct a misaligned bite or teeth grinding problems
Gum Recession & Disease Affects Your Smile
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.
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
- 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
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