What is gum recession?
Over time, gums can become pushed back or can wear away, exposing the pink tissue that protects the roots of our teeth. A receding gum line can be caused by a number of things including genetics and habits. The most common cause of gum recession is periodontal disease.
Receding gums become a health concern when the roots of the teeth become exposed. At this point, the teeth are at a higher risk of decay, developing an infection, and falling out. Gum recession is a common condition among adults but unfortunately, most people don’t realize their gums are receding until the damage is difficult to reverse.
Based on the most recent national oral health survey, only 18 percent of 16 to 24-year-olds, 8 percent of 35 to 44-year-olds and 7 percent of people aged 65 years and over have healthy gums. Read on to learn the early signs of gum recession, risk factors, prevention tips, and how it can be treated.
Early signs of gum recession
The sooner a patient begins gum recession treatment, the easier the reversal process will be. The trick here is noticing the recession before the gum tissue becomes too thin. Sensitive, inflamed, or red gums can be early indicators that your gums are not being cared for properly. Other early signs of gum recession include:
• Bleeding gums
• Chronic bad breath
• Red or purple gums
• Swollen gumline
• Long teeth
• Exposed Root
• Loose teeth
If you notice one or a combination of the above symptoms, make an appointment to see your dentist for an exam as soon as possible. Cases of gum recession that go untreated for a long time are more difficult to reverse and sometimes result in gum recession surgery.
Gum Recession Surgery
When the margins of the gum tissue surrounding the teeth start to wear away or pull back, exposing the root of the tooth, the teeth become more susceptible to plaque and tartar build-up and can ultimately become so loose that they fall out. Mild gum recession is usually treated by professional deep cleanings to the affected areas. Sometimes an antibiotic is also used to kill any leftover bacteria. In more serious cases, your dentist may recommend gum recession surgery.
Gum tissue graft surgery may be necessary to protect your teeth from the damaging effects of gum recession. It can also improve the appearance of your smile. There are three types of gum grafts: free gingival grafts, connective tissue grafts, and pedicle grafts.
During a free gingival graft, your periodontist removes a small piece of tissue from the roof of the mouth and stitches it to the target area. This type of gum graft procedure is usually performed on patients with thin gums to prevent further recession.
A connective-tissue graft is the most common type of gum graft. It is also performed using tissue from the roof of your mouth but instead, your periodontist opens a small flap in the roof of your mouth to remove a piece of connective tissue from under the topmost layer of tissue. This tissue is stitched to the target area.
Pedicle grafts are typically the most successful type of gum graft surgery but you need plenty of gum tissue in the area around your gum recession. During this procedure, your periodontist will create a flap of tissue from local tissue (an area close to your gum recession). The flap is used to cover the area of receding gum tissue.
Some dentists prefer to use tissue graft material from a tissue bank, rather than from the roof of the patient’s mouth. In some cases, tissue-stimulating proteins are also used to stimulate natural bone and tissue growth near the affected area. Your dentist will best decide which method is ideal for your treatment plan.
Possible Risk Factors
Most oral health conditions can be prevented with good oral healthcare habits and frequent trips to the dentist. There are several factors that can put a person at a higher risk of gum recession, including the following:
• Brushing too hard
• Teeth grinding or clenching
• Crooked teeth
• Misaligned bite
• Insufficient dental care
• Tobacco products
Brushing your teeth too aggressively is one of the most common ways to develop gum recession. If you brush your teeth too hard, the enamel will wear away, allowing the gums to recede. If you think your brushing habits may be too rough, try switching to a softer bristled toothbrush or use an electric toothbrush.
If your gums have already started to recede or are loose in some areas, take extra care when brushing those sensitive spots. Brush in small circles in an upward motion to alleviate any irritation that might be caused by brushing.
FAQs About Gum Recession
Q: What causes gum recession?
A: There are several risk factors that make people more susceptible to gum recession but some of the most common causes are brushing too hard and poor dental hygiene habits.
Q: What helps receding gums?
A: Gum recession can be prevented by brushing twice every day and flossing once a day. Frequent visits to the dentist for cleanings and exams help prevent gum recession too.
Q: What are gums made of?
A: Gingival tissue. Gingival tissue is dense and has a good supply of blood vessels otherwise known as a mucous membrane. Gingival tissue connects with the rest of the mouth lining and firmly attaches to the jawbone.
Q: How can I make my gums healthier?
A: Keep your gums clean and well-maintained by brushing and flossing the recommended amounts and by eating teeth healthy foods and drinks. If you are already experiencing gum recession, have your dentist decide what the best treatment plan is. Depending on the severity of your condition, there are several different options