What Is Gum Recession, and Can It Be Treated?
Have your teeth felt a little more sensitive lately? Do you feel a little notch at the top of the tooth next to the gumline? Do your teeth somehow look longer than they once did?
If you’ve answered some or all of these questions in the affirmative, then you may well be suffering from gum recession.
Receding gums are a common dental issue, but not one to ignore.
What is Gum Recession?
As you can guess from the name, gum recession occurs when the soft gum tissue starts to pull away from the teeth. It is usually a gradual process so we may not even notice it for a while. Slowly, as the gum recedes, more of the tooth is exposed making the teeth appear longer.
When left unchecked, this can cause dental decay as the more delicate parts of the tooth are now unprotected, and often results in tooth loss.
What Causes Gum Recession?
Several factors may contribute to gum recession. These can include:
Mouth Healthy tells us, “The decreased estrogen that occurs with menopause also puts you at risk for a loss of bone density. Signs of bone loss in your jaw can be something as simple as receding gums.”
As we pass through various stages of life, from puberty to menopause, our hormones fluctuate and can impact our oral health.
Poor Dental Hygiene
If you’re not brushing and flossing regularly, you’ll likely have higher bacterial levels in your mouth. Plaque will slowly turn to calculus, which your dentist really should see to. In the meantime, this build-up of tartar sits at the gumline and will start to infect, and affect, your gums. This is a common cause of gum recession.
Aggressive Dental Care
From one extreme to another? Yes, if you’re an overenthusiastic brusher and ruthlessly scrub at your teeth using poor form, you may damage your teeth and gums. It’s possible to wear away at the enamel and push the gums back, so be a little gentle.
Periodontal diseases can creep up on people who aren’t as diligent with their dental regime as they should be. Gum disease is the most common cause of gum recession and should be treated as a matter of priority.
You know that smoking is bad for your teeth, but do you know why?
An article from Corsodyl answers this succinctly. “Smoking is bad for your health and that includes your gums. Smokers’ teeth have a higher risk of developing gum disease and, if you do have it, it is likely to be more severe and harder to treat than for non-smokers. The more you smoke and the longer you are a smoker, the higher your risk becomes.”
Colgate confirms this point and says, “If you have a family history of gum disease, then you are more likely to have problems with your gums. According to the American Dental Association, genetics is a risk factor for developing gum disease.”
So, no matter how fastidious you are, you may suffer from gum recession anyway.
What Treatments Are Available?
When it comes to gum disease, prevention is much better than cure. A solid dental routine and regular visits to your dentist are the best measures that you can take.
However, if you’ve determined that your gums are, in fact, receding, what can you do about it?
First of all, it has to be said that once your gums have started receding, they won’t grow back. Not on their own anyway.
Scale and Root Planing
To halt the recession of the gums and provide the best, healthiest environment for them, your dentist may suggest a process of scaling and root planing.
This involves removing the calculus near the gumline and manually smoothing out the roots of the tooth to encourage growth and attachment. Your teeth and gums may well be sore and sensitive for a few days, and you will have to take extra care to keep your mouth as clean as possible.
The process may be a fairly simple one, or it could require a more invasive procedure. For example, your dentist may need to cut back the gum tissue and fold it back to expose more of the tooth before planing.
Regenerative surgery that uses tissue-stimulating products to restore the tooth and gum tissue is also an option. A membrane or graft tissue is placed onto the affected areas and encourages the body to naturally restore the missing materials.
In more severe cases, gum grafts may be the only option to replace missing tissue around the teeth. In this instance, tissue is harvested from other areas of the mouth and manually attached to the affected areas to grow and cover the exposed tooth.
Healthy Gums = Healthy Teeth
Nobody wants to lose their teeth. We all want to enjoy a bright, beautiful smile for as long as we can.
Gum recession is a very real problem in the UK, with between 50 – 70% of adults suffering from some form of gum disease. This really is one area that you don’t want to ignore, and we’d like to encourage you to book an appointment with us right away so that we can do a check on your gum health and advise you accordingly.