Gum Recession Basics

receding gums

Gum recession, also known as gingival recession, is a condition in which the roots of the teeth become exposed. If left untreated, it can lead to a greater risk of tooth decay and tooth loss. Exposed roots can also lead to sensitivity to hot foods, cold foods or acids; this can make eating an uncomfortable affair.

Fortunately, modern oral hygiene and dentistry have made receding gum treatment less common than in generations past, even for older adults. It is now easier than ever to prevent and treat gingival recession.

Maintaining Healthy Gums

Keeping your gums healthy is the best way to minimize gum recession. Brushing twice a day, flossing daily and biannual dental cleanings are usually all that is needed to avoid gum recession.

But for some people, it's not that simple. Heredity can cause teeth to recede, despite even the best hygiene practices. Crooked teeth can cause gum recession, because they are harder to clean and make it easier for plaque and tartar to build up at the gumline. Brushing too hard at the gumline can also lead to gum recession.

How to Treat Receding Gums

The first step in the treatment of gum disease is to determine what factors are contributing to the recession, so they can be lessened or eliminated. For instance, crooked teeth can be straightened and better oral hygiene methods can be incorporated into a routine.

Once these factors have been addressed, different treatments can be used to restore the appearance of your gums:

  • Deep cleaning Teeth and Gums: Your dentist and dental hygienist may use special tools to remove plaque and tartar buildup on the roots where the gums are receding. This procedure is known as root planning.
  • Gum grafting: A dental profession will extract some of the patient’s healthy gum tissue, from the roof of the mouth, or use a gum grafting material, to replace missing gum tissue. Dentists often recommend that patients see a periodontist, a dental specialist who treats the gum tissue and supporting bone, for this procedure.
  • Regeneration: In severe cases of gum recession where the bone has been destroyed, periodontists will perform a surgical procedure where a regenerative material is placed in the area of bone loss to help regenerate the bone and tissue. The gum tissue is then secured in that area where one or more teeth may have been involved.

Receding gums or recession might occur very slowly, sometimes over a period of years. This can make it tough to spot if you don't experience pain or sensitivity. However, if you notice that your teeth appear longer, or the spaces in between them appear bigger at the base, you should contact your dentist, as these may be signs that you need receding gums treatment.