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 Are The Gums?
The gum, or gingivae, are composed of pink tissue in the mouth that meets the base of the teeth. There is one gum or gingiva for each set of teeth.
Gingival tissue is dense. It has a good supply of blood vessels beneath a moist surface, otherwise known as a mucous membrane. The gingival tissue connects with the rest of the mouth lining but is pink instead of shiny red.
The gum are firmly attached to the jawbone and tightly cover each tooth up to the neck. When intact, the gum cover the roots of the teeth and protect them.
Gingival recession happens after a person has experienced a loss of tissue in the gum. It exposes the fragile roots of the teeth to bacteria and plaque and can lead to decay.
Who Does Gum Recession Affect?
While gum recession can affect people of all ages, it’s most common in people over 65. You’re more likely to develop recession if you:
- Have periodontal disease.
- Had braces or other orthodontic treatment.
- Use chewing tobacco.
- Have a lip or tongue piercing.
- Brush your teeth aggressively.
Gum recession is most common in adults over the age of 40 and can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- brushing too hard in the long-term
- using a hard-bristled toothbrush
- plaque build-up from poor dental hygiene
- periodontal (gum) disease
- tongue piercings
- misaligned teeth
- damage from dental work
- smoking or any tobacco use
Receding Gums Symptoms
As receding gum progress over time, you may notice the following symptoms:
One symptom is the visible lengthening of the teeth. When gum recede because of periodontal disease, the teeth have the appearance of being much longer than normal.
Exposed roots are another symptom, and can be extremely sensitive and uncomfortable. They are often a sign of periodontal disease or can be attributed to brushing overly aggressively with a toothbrush with hard bristles.
When suffering from receding gum, you may notice loose teeth, attributed to the bacteria and periodontal disease under the gum around the teeth. As receding gum worsen, the gum pockets deepen due to loss of attachment structure.
When To See A Dentist
Follow your dentist’s recommended schedule for regular checkups. If you notice any symptoms of periodontitis, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. The sooner you seek care, the better your chances of reversing damage from periodontitis.
How Can I Stop Receding Gums?
If you want to find out if you have gum recession or think you have receding gums, the first thing to do is book an appointment to see your dentist and get professional advice on how to stop receding gums.
There are several receding gum treatments including:
Scaling And Root Planing
In cases of gum recession, your dentist might suggest scaling and root planing. This is a two-part procedure done by your dentist. Firstly, all the plaque and hardened tartar above and below the gum line (where the gum meets the tooth) is removed. Then your dentist will do root planing, which is smoothing out your teeth roots to help the gums reattach to the teeth. Your dentist may offer a local anesthetic during the procedure and it may take more than one visit to complete.
After your treatment it’s normal for your gum to be red, swollen and sore and for there to be increased sensitivity. Your dentist may recommend using a short course of antimicrobial mouthwash like Corsodyl 0.2% Mouthwash to help reduce bacteria and prevent infection.
Scaling and planing is often enough to fix the problem, but you will need to have regular check ups to make sure your receding gums have improved and are not getting worse. It’s also important to maintain a good oral health routine to protect your gum.
For more severe cases of receding gum your dentist may recommend gum surgery. There are few different types including:
Open flap scaling and planing: If non-surgical treatment hasn’t worked, your dentist may recommend open flap scaling and planing, where the affected gum tissue is folded back to get better access to clean and smooth the roots. The gum is then reattached snugly, making it easier to keep clean and healthy.
Regeneration: This is surgical treatment that can help to regenerate the damaged bone and gum tissue. Your dentist will clean above and below the gum to remove bacteria and plaque. Then a regenerative material – a membrane, tissue-stimulating protein or graft tissue, will be applied to encourage your body to naturally restore the damaged bone and tissue. The gum is then securely reattached over the root of the tooth.