Have you noticed that your teeth look taller during your daily brushing routine? This may be a sign of gum recession. Gum recession is a common but uncomfortable oral health condition. Individuals with receding gums may experience tooth sensitivity, loose teeth, bad breath and more.
What causes receding gums?
Gum recession may be caused by many things including:
- Aggressive brushing
- Past orthodontic treatments such as braces
- Tobacco use
- Mouth piercings
- Gum disease
One of the main culprits of gum recession is gum disease. When plaque is not removed it forms a bacterium that irritates and inflames the gum tissue. Eventually, the inflammation may cause puffiness, redness and swelling that destroy the gum tissue. This causes spaces to form around the gum tissue called “pockets”. These pockets make room for even more bacteria, making the infection worse.
If gum disease isn’t treated, it may lead to periodontitis and at this stage, your dentist may refer you to a specialist called a “periodontist.”
In advanced stages of periodontitis, the gums can’t hold teeth in place, which causes them to become loose, fall out or require removal by a dentist. The good news is that your dentist and periodontist can help prevent this and help you improve your daily oral health care routine.
Can receding gums grow back naturally?
Unfortunately, receding gums don’t grow back. This is because gum tissue is not able to regenerate like other tissues in the body. Once gum damage occurs, it can’t be reversed. However, there are things you can do to keep the problem from getting worse and treatments are available for severe cases.
Ways to Treat receding gums
The type of treatment needed to correct gum recession will depend on the severity of the condition. Your dentist will help you determine which treatment is right for you.
Scaling and root planing: Your dentist or hygienist will use special tools to remove plaque and tartar that has gathered above and below the gum line. They may use a manual scaler or an ultrasonic instrument. This is known as “scaling” or “deep scaling.”
If damaged tissue is present, the dentist or hygienist may remove it to help with the healing process. After they have cleaned the gum line thoroughly and removed infection-causing bacteria, they will move on to the final step, called root planing.
Root planing smooths out your tooth’s root surface. The procedure also aids in the healing process, making it easier for healthy gum tissue to reattach easily.
Drug therapy: Short courses of oral antibiotics, as well as antibiotic and antiseptic medications applied directly to the gums, can reduce bacteria and inflammation.
Surgery: In severe cases of gum recession a gum graft surgery may be necessary. During this procedure a periodontist will use tissue from your mouth or from a donor to replace the recessed gum tissue. The new tissue is stitched to the existing gums and heals over a couple of weeks.
Preventing gum recession after treatment
Maintenance is key! After any initial treatment, it’s important to keep plaque levels low to avoid a resurgence of the disease. For most people, a good after-treatment plan includes visiting the dentist or hygienist every three months, brushing and flossing, and using an antimicrobial mouth rinse.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of gum recession or haven’t been to the dentist in a while, click here to find one near you.