Have you noticed your teeth looking a little different in the mirror lately, like they might be showing more at the gumline than they should? It could be that you are experiencing gum recession. When detected early, gum recession can be treated and even reversed with the help of periodontics. Periodontics is a subcategory of dentistry primarily focusing on the gums and the bone supporting the teeth. There are many potential causes of gum recession, and each is treated differently. Let us help you better understand the effects, causes and available treatment options.
How Bad Could It Be?
First, what exactly is gum recession? WebMD defines the condition as follows:
“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.”
Receding gums can be insidious, as the recession is so gradual you may not notice. The first sign is usually tooth sensitivity, or you may notice that a tooth looks longer than normal. Typically, a notch can be felt near the gum line. It could be that only one or a few teeth are affected, or the tissue around all teeth is receding. Gum recession needs to be treated as soon as possible. Left untreated, the exposed roots are susceptible to decay — which can lead to tooth loss.
What Causes Gum Recession?
There are many causes of gum recession, some of which can be prevented and others that cannot. Causes of gum recession may include:
- Gum (periodontal) disease
- Smoking or other tobacco use
- Damaged gum tissues from injury
- Hormone fluctuations (during and after pregnancy)
- Brushing teeth too roughly
- Bruxism (grinding your teeth)
- Poorly fitting partial dentures
- Tooth roots or attachment muscles pushing gums out of place
Periodontal disease is the most common cause of gum recession, which itself is generally caused by plaque and bacteria resulting from poor dental hygiene. As we discussed in our blog post, “Signs You Need a Periodontist,” periodontal disease occurs in progressive stages that begin with gingivitis and, left untreated, end in tooth loss.
Treatments for Gum Recession
A periodontist will be able to provide options for treating your gum recession according to the severity of your case. Your dentist or periodontist will teach you proper brushing technique if overly vigorous brushing is the only cause. Other causes, however, are likely to require some form of treatment, which include the following:
- Scaling and root planing of tooth roots and gum pockets to help gum tissues heal for mild gum disease cases
- Readjustment or remaking of partial dentures if they are causing the problem
- Gum grafting for advanced gum recession
If your gum recession is advanced, a gum graft procedure may be recommended. This is a type of dental surgery, but there is no reason to feel anxious over it. A periodontist will ensure the procedure is quick and painless, whether performing connective tissue grafts, free gingival grafts or pedicle (lateral) grafts. After receiving a gum graft, some mild pain and discomfort may occur while the graft sites heal, but the recovery process typically takes only one to two weeks. Of course, your healing will greatly depend on how well you follow your periodontist’s post-surgery instructions.
For gum recession treatment you can trust, choose NK Family Dental. We are honored to have Dr. Waeil Elmisalati as one of our practicing partners, rated as the top periodontist in Chicago by RateMDs.com. Read more about our periodontal and other dental services, and schedule your appointment with us today.