Gingival recession or gum recession is a progressive dental condition which occurs when your gums begin to pull away from your teeth or start to recede. Visible gaps gradually form between teeth and where the gum line meets the bottom of the tooth exposing the root. If left untreated, these gaps can become a breeding ground for disease causing bacteria which can damage supporting tissue and the root of the tooth, ultimately leading to tooth loss. Gum recession can be painful and harmful to one’s self esteem yet it effects millions of people worldwide and is typically preventable.
It is important to recognize the early signs of gum recession.
These signs include, but are not limited to:
- Persistent poor taste in your mouth
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Swollen, red, and sensitive gums
- Loose teeth
There are multiple contributing factors that increase your risk for receding gum lines:
- Grinding teeth – the excessive force caused by grinding and clenching can cause gum lines to recede over time.
- Poor dental hygiene – lack of brushing, flossing, or seeing your dentist twice a year can lead to gum recession.
- Genetics- some individuals are predisposed to gum disease regardless of how great their oral hygiene is.
- Gum disease – Periodontal diseases damage gum tissue and the supporting bones that keep your teeth in place
- Hormones – fluctuations in hormone levels can cause gums to be more sensitive and susceptible to gum recession.
- Tobacco – all forms of tobacco can cause gum disease and gum recession (cigarettes, dip, chew pouches)
- Misaligned bite – Prominent teeth that are not aligned properly can potential shift gum tissue and expose gaps around your teeth and gums.
- Body piercings – although this is less common, tongue piercings and lip piercings can rub against gums causing irritation to gums and potential recession.
- Aggressive brushing or flossing – sometimes too much force and brushing in the wrong direction can cause recession over time.
It is important to address issues of gingival recession early by scheduling an appointment with Dr. Baier as quickly as possible to help identify and minimize the damage it can cause to your teeth and gums. Once the roots are exposed the damage to the underlying structure may accelerate quickly. If left untreated this condition could cause the loss of the affected teeth. Dr. Baier will work with you to develop a treatment plan tailored for you to stop progression, prevent, and/or restore your smile.
If you suffer from gum recession due to any of the reasons above, the good news is most recession can be stopped and there are treatments available to restore the health of your gums. Quitting the use of all tobacco products and eating a healthy balanced diet can significantly reduce the potential for gum recession and gum disease. If your gum recession is due to aggressive brushing or flossing, your dentist can help identify problem areas and show you a better way to brush your teeth.
Gum recession caused by periodontal disease can often be treated with a deep cleaning performed by your dental care provider. This deep cleaning is usually called scaling and root planing. This type of cleaning removes tartar and plaque from your teeth and the roots effected. If a deep cleaning cannot be performed due to extensive damage from gum disease, there are several treatment options available.
Another treatment is regeneration. During this treatment, the dentist will apply regenerative material (membrane, graft tissue, or tissue-stimulation protein). This particular step will help your body naturally regenerate bone and tissue in any of the treated areas.
A third treatment option is called soft tissue graft. This particular treatment involves transferring a small amount of skin from your palate to the gum line where the recession is greatest.
Your dental health and overall smile is important! We encourage you to mention any concerns related to gum recession at your routine 6 month cleaning with us. Or, please know that we welcome new patients to schedule an appointment for a consultation regardless of your last appointment.