Our teeth rely on the gums as anchorage to stay firm in their ideal position in the mouth. Therefore, when your gums start to recede or pull away, your teeth become loose and could eventually fall out. If you notice that some of your teeth appear longer than others, it could be a sign of gum recession.
Gum recession and other uncomfortable associated symptoms were once presumed to be an inevitable sign of aging. However, this condition is preventable with professional treatments and other preventative care. Although gums do not grow back after the recession, there are several steps a dentist can take to prevent the condition from worsening and give you the healthy gums you deserve.
Gum recession is indeed a common problem among people of different ages. Almost half (47.2%) of adults aged 30 years and older have periodontal disease, one of the leading causes of gum recession. Fortunately, it is preventable and manageable, especially when detected early.
If you want to know what causes gum recession and the steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from this condition, this article is for you.
Gum Recession at a Glance
Gum recession is a form of periodontal (gum) disease whereby your gums recede or pull back from the surface of your teeth, exposing more parts of the affected tooth, including the roots. If you have gum recession, gaps or "pockets" form between your gum line and affected teeth, creating an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive.
When this condition is left untreated or unchecked, acidic secretions from bacteria will severely erode the supporting bone and soft tissues, ultimately leading to tooth loss.
Most people do not notice they have receding gums because this condition occurs gradually. However, with routine dental checkups and exams, a dentist can detect it during its onset or early stages and provide proper treatment.
Common Causes of Gum Recession
There are several causes of gum recession, but only a dentist can pinpoint the cause of your unique problem. Some of the most common causes of gum recession include:
Some people could be more susceptible to gum recession than others due to their genes. That means you will likely suffer gum recession regardless of how you care for your teeth if the condition runs in your family.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, gum disease is the main culprit or leading cause of gum recession in many people. When you have gingivitis or periodontitis (advanced gingivitis), your gums could begin to pull away due to gum inflammation caused by the bacteria.
Aggressive or Vigorous Tooth Brushing
When you wash a dirty frypan, scrubbing it harder to remove stains could make sense. However, that ideology does not work on your teeth. Brushing your teeth vigorously for a prolonged period could make your tooth enamel (the tooth's outer surface) wear away, and your gum tissues pull away, leading to gum recession.
Tobacco Smoking or Chewing
If you have a history of tobacco smoking or using other tobacco products, it could cause plaque buildup on your tooth surface, creating a breeding ground for bacteria and eventually causing receding gums.
Female hormone imbalances during pregnancy, menopause, or puberty could make the gums sensitive, increasing the chances of experiencing gum recession.
Teeth Grinding or Clenching
If you have a habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, it could eventually lead to gum recession due to the excessive force that your teeth exert on your gums while at it.
If your teeth in the upper and lower jaws do not touch or come together when your mouth is at rest, you have an improper or misaligned bite. Aside from making it challenging to maintain top-notch dental and oral hygiene, a misaligned bite exerts excessive force on your gums, especially when chewing, making them pull away.
Aside from maintaining your teeth' integrity by providing phosphate, magnesium, and calcium in your teeth, saliva has antimicrobial properties that help keep bacteria at bay by breaking them down and blocking their growth. Unfortunately, certain medications, like antidepressants and opioids, can dry your mouth and increase your chances of experiencing gum recession.
Inadequate Dental Care
If you do not practice good oral hygiene habits like brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day and having regular dental checkups, plaque can build up and harden into tartar. When the tartar remains on your tooth surface or is untreated, it could lead to gum recession.
How to Know Whether You Have Gum Recession
As previously mentioned, gum recession occurs gradually, and most of the time, it will not show symptoms, especially during its onset. Some of the most common signs that could indicate that you have gum recession include the following:
- Sensitivity or pain in your gums.
- Bad breath.
- Gum bleeding after flossing or brushing.
- Loose teeth.
- Shrinking gums.
- Swollen and red gums.
- Exposed tooth roots.
- Sensitivity to cold, sour, or hot food and drinks.
If left untreated or unchecked, gum recession will worsen, leading to other severe oral health issues like tooth loss and bone loss. When you detect any of these symptoms, you should speak with a dentist as soon as possible to determine the root cause of the issue and provide appropriate treatment.
How a Dentist Will Diagnose Gum Disease
Your dentist or periodontist can diagnose whether you have receding gums during routine dental visits. Aside from checking for the above symptoms and signs, your dentist can use a dental instrument known as a dental probe to measure the amount of gum recession in all your teeth.
Bone loss is likely to occur in areas with receding gums. For this reason, your periodontist will also assess and measure the pockets or gaps around each of your teeth. Typically, healthy pockets' depth is between one and three millimeters.
If you have gingivitis, the pocket depth could measure up to four millimeters. However, the pockets could measure up to five millimeters or more if you have periodontitis.
Treatment Options for Gum Recession
The severity of your gum recession will determine the treatments you will need to prevent the problem from worsening. Below are some common remedies or treatment options your dentist could recommend for your unique condition:
Deep Teeth Cleaning
Also known as scaling and root planing, your dentist could recommend a deep cleaning procedure to remove tartar and plaque buildup on the surface of your teeth and below your gum line. If your gum recession is mild, scaling and root planing can reduce the problem and stop its progression.
Deep cleaning also targets your tooth roots to make them smoother and help the gums reattach to your teeth. Your dentist could offer local anesthesia to make the procedure pain-free and comfortable.
After a deep cleaning, your dentist could inject antibiotics directly into the affected area of your gums and prescribe antibiotics you can take at home to stop further bacterial infection. Generally, a deep cleaning is enough to prevent the progression of gum recession, but your dentist will require you to schedule frequent visits to ensure the condition is not worsening.
For mild gum recession, your dentist could recommend dental bonding to camouflage the affected region of gum recession with a white composite resin. The composite resin will cover the exposed tooth roots, reducing sensitivity and making them less noticeable.
As previously mentioned, a misaligned bite could also make your gums recede. If this is the cause of your condition, your dentist could recommend orthodontic treatment, like wearing braces or Invisalign aligners. Once your teeth return to their ideal position in your mouth, your gum recession margin could correct itself.
If your gums already have deep periodontal pockets or have experienced excessive bone loss, your dentist could recommend surgery to manage and treat the problem. Depending on the severity of gum recession, the dentist could recommend any of the surgical procedures explained below to repair the damage caused by the condition:
Also commonly known as pocket reduction or flap scaling, flap surgery is an extensive deep teeth cleaning procedure your dentist or periodontist will use to remove tartar buildup below your gum line. During the procedure, your dentist will fold the affected gums, remove bacteria from the formed gaps, and then secure your gum tissue over the affected tooth's root to eliminate the pockets.
In severe cases, gum recession can cause bone loss. If this happens to you, your periodontist will recommend a surgical regeneration procedure to help regenerate the lost gum and bone tissues. During this procedure, your dentist or periodontist will apply a graft or regenerative material to encourage the body to regenerate new healthy gum tissues and bones around the affected area.
Gum Tissue Grafting
Gum tissue grafting is the most long-lasting surgical treatment option for gum recession. During this surgical procedure, your periodontist will cut off a flap of tissue from surrounding regions, like the palate, and stitch it to the affected gum area to cover the exposed tooth roots.
However, if you have sufficient gum tissues around the affected gum area, your periodontist can graft your gums from around the tooth instead of removing tissue from the palate. The recovery period after this procedure depends on the following factors:
- The specific part your periodontist removed the graft tissue.
- The number of teeth affected by the gum recession.
Patients will usually feel back to normal two weeks after this surgery. Your periodontist will give you instructions and tips to speed up the healing process after the surgery.
Luckily, with new technological advancements in dentistry, all these surgical procedures are minimally invasive and pain-free. Your dentist will know which procedure will work best for your unique gum recession condition.
Tips on How to Keep Gum Recession Issues at Bay
The issue of receding gums is preventable, and you can prevent it by practicing excellent oral health habits and visiting your dentist regularly for dental checkups and examinations. Brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice daily and scheduling appointments with your dentist at least twice annually can help keep gum recession and other gum problems at bay.
When brushing your teeth, remember to use soft-bristled toothbrushes. If you have a dentist, he/she will show you how to brush and floss your teeth effectively without injuring your gums or causing your teeth's enamel to wear away. Other tips that can help prevent the issue of receding gums include the following:
- Consume a balanced diet.
- Avoid or quit using tobacco-related products.
- Monitor any changes that you notice in your mouth.
- Wear a custom night mouth guard if you have the habit of teeth grinding.
- Gargle with antimicrobial mouthwash at least twice daily.
By practicing the above tips, you will have a high chance of growing old with the healthy and clean smile you deserve.
How to Find a Reliable Dentist for Gum Recession Treatment
If you suspect you have gum recession, you do not have to wait for your next dentist appointment for an examination. It is important to contact your dentist as soon as possible if there is an issue in your mouth that does not feel or look right for examination and quick treatment.
Here is what to consider when finding a dependable dentist or periodontist for you and your beloved family's dental and oral health issues:
- Consider the dentist's licensing credentials.
- Consider the dentist's reputation.
- Consider the dentist's qualifications and experience.
- Consider the dentist's accessibility.
The above tips can reduce the hassle of finding a reliable dentist to examine your gums and teeth's health immediately and offer quick treatment if necessary.
Find a La Puente Dentist Near Me
The sooner you contact a dentist for gum recession treatment, the higher your chances of protecting your gums from further bacteria attack and damage. If you have detected a sign of gum recession or have questions about this bothersome oral health issue, our skilled dentists at La Puente Advanced Dentistry are here for you.
Our dentist can examine your gum condition, tell you how severe your issue is, and give you tips that can help keep possible oral and dental health issues at bay. We invite you to call us at 626-626-7075 for a cost-free initial consultation with our dentists if you have any oral health concerns.