Gum recession is a more common dental problem than many people think. Because it often happens gradually it might be some time before you notice your receding gums in the mirror.
Receding gums occur when gum tissue disconnects from the bone of the teeth and creates pockets where bacteria collect. If given the chance to progress, gum recession can become a serious dental issue causing irreversible bone and tissue loss, and eventually the loss of the tooth itself.
Receding gums cannot be reversed, but mild gum recession can be halted by following a few good oral hygiene tips. If you’ve noticed gum recession be sure to make an appointment with your dentist right away.
Causes of Receding Gums
There are many causes of receding gums and it is important to know which are affecting you so that your gums may be treated most efficiently and effectively.
Periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease, is the leading cause of receding gums. Bacterial infections cause gums to detach from teeth and irreversibly damage the supporting bone beneath.
Brushing your teeth too aggressively, or with a hard bristled brush, can cause gums to recede. While gums thrive on gentle stimulation, they are also fragile. Brush up on good brushing techniques to make sure you aren’t bashing your gums with every cleaning.
Women experience hormonal changes throughout life that make them susceptible to gum disease. Did you know that pregnancy and menopause can wreak havoc on women’s teeth? If you are expecting a baby it is important to know what signs to look for to make sure your teeth are well cared for throughout pregnancy.
Bruxism (or Grinding)
Tooth grinding can break down the structure of the jaw, leading to receding gums.
An underbite, overbite, or crossbite can lead to gum recession by creating undue force on specific teeth, causing the gums and bone to recede.
Sometimes receding gums are simply the result of genetics. Some people are simply more susceptible to gum disease regardless of how well they care for their teeth.
As we age, the bones of our teeth naturally lose some of their minerality, causing gums to recede. This happens regardless of how well we care for our teeth and can be mitigated to a certain extent through proper brushing, using a sensitive toothpaste, and seeing your dentist for regular cleaning and monitoring.
Bad Oral Hygiene
Lax oral hygiene can lead to tartar build up between the gums and the bone of teeth that cause gum recession. Be sure to brush, floss, and rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash regularly.
Those who use tobacco products are more susceptible to gum disease due to the sticky plaque it builds on teeth.
Tongue and cheek piercings can cause receding gums by constantly rubbing on the fragile tissue and breaking down its connection to the bone underneath.
Treatment for Receding Gums
Gum loss due to receding gums cannot be reversed, but it can be halted or repaired. More serious gum recession requires surgical treatments.
Mild to medium gum recession can be stopped by a deep cleaning performed by your dentist. Low-grade tooth scaling and root planing removes the plaque and tartar that builds up in the pockets created by gum recession. The removal of this bacteria allows the gums to reattach to teeth and prevent further damage. This treatment combined with excellent oral care and regular monitoring by your dentist can control periodontal disease and prevent further bone loss.
- Open Flap Scaling and Root Planing – A more involved version of tooth scaling and root planing, open flap surgery removes bacterial build up from gum pockets and reattaches gums to teeth.
- Regeneration – This treatment aims to correct serious bone loss by adding regenerative material underneath your gums that will help regrow roots. The gums are then reattached to teeth to prevent further pockets from forming.
- Soft Tissue Graft – Soft tissue grafting takes tissue from another area of the mouth and stitches it to affected gums, replacing gum tissue that was lost. There are several types of grafts and your dentist can determine which is best for you.
Prevention of Receding Gums
The best way to avoid surgical procedures for the correction of receding gums is to prevent gum disease and trauma before it starts. Brush and floss your teeth daily and use a soft bristled brush. Be sure to see your dentist regularly to prevent bacterial build-up that leads to gum disease and recession. If you are a woman, be sure to visit with your dentist before or during large hormonal changes such as pregnancy and menopause.
Other preventive measures include:
- Seeing an orthodontist to correct a misaligned bite.
- Wearing a night guard to protect your teeth from grinding.
- Ceasing use of all tobacco products.
- Removing all foreign objects such as tongue piercings from your mouth.
We Are Here to Help
At Park Avenue Dental we care deeply about the oral health of you and your family. As a family dentistry practice, we are committed to caring for your teeth through every stage of life. If you are concerned about receding gums, please schedule an appointment with our dentists.