Have you noticed your gums pulling back from your teeth, or do your teeth look longer? If so, you likely have receding gums and it’s time to schedule a dental visit; the overall health of your teeth and mouth depends on it.
Receding gums result from a handful of different causes, the most serious being periodontal disease, or gum disease. There is currently no cure for gum recession or disease but it can be managed if done so with diligence and care.
Consider a healthy mouth of pink gums and a consistent gum line around all teeth. When gum recession takes hold, the gums become inflamed and the gum line around some teeth “sinks” or looks lower than other teeth. Gradually, more gum tissue wears away, exposing more of a tooth and causing sensitivity.
Can receding gums be reversed? First, let’s look at some common symptoms and causes of receding gums.
Symptoms and causes of receding gums
The most noticeable symptom of receding gums is the loss of tissue around your teeth. In addition, gum recession often results in red, swollen gums, bad breath, bad taste in the mouth, and loose teeth.
Some people also notice their bite is different or uncomfortable, tender gums, and pain in the mouth. Another major concern is receding gums are almost always more susceptible to bacteria and a host of related issues.
What causes gum recession? Interestingly, one of the most prevalent causes is the easiest to address. Poor oral hygiene is to blame for a great many dental dilemmas and if you are lacking in this area, gum recession could be in your future. Some medical conditions such as diabetes also impact gum recession, as does old age.
Even your toothbrush could be the culprit. Brushing too hard can lead to gum recession, or using a brush with stiff bristles. Sage advice: Use a soft-bristled brush and be gentle. Brush at least twice a day for two minutes each.
Other causes of gum recession include:
- Sports injury or similar trauma
- Misaligned teeth
- Poor fitting dentures
- Grinding your teeth at night
Gum recession treatment
Unfortunately, gum recession cannot be reversed. The tissue will not grow back but there are specific steps to take to keep the recession from getting worse.
Successful treatment ultimately depends on how your gum recession originated in the first place. Poor oral care habits can be discussed with your dentist and adapted accordingly. A plaque-fighting mouth rinse can be effective at targeting stubborn plaque between teeth, and dental picks work well to clean hard-to-reach areas.
While mild gum recession might not seem critical at first glance, even lighter cases boost the chances of bacteria forming in gum pockets, and gum disease tends to take hold much sooner in areas where other forms of gum disease already exist. A silver lining, however, is mild gum recession is not an automatic diagnosis of gum disease.
Deep cleaning treatments, known as scaling and root planing, may be performed to treat gum recession and prevent its spread. In more serious cases, gum grafting can “restore” lost tissue through a surgical procedure harvesting gum tissue from other areas of the mouth. The new tissue is then attached to affected areas and once healed, it offers protection and a natural look to the tooth.
Similar surgical techniques include flap surgery, involving a small incision in the gum tissue to lift and remove plaque, and bonding, where gum-colored resin is applied over the roots of an infected tooth to protect the sensitive roots and improve appearance.
The best approach to treating gum recession is preventing it in the first place. Receding gums affect your smile and increases the likelihood of disease; to slow its progression requires ardent discipline on your part.
See your dentist no less than twice a year and heed their oral hygiene instructions. If you have advanced gum recession, it is wise to make an appointment with a periodontist, or gum disease specialist.
A healthy lifestyle is also a stalwart defense against gum recession. Maintain a healthy diet and if you smoke or use chewing tobacco, stop today. The bottom line is that while receding gums are common, treatment options are available to stem the tide.