The Truth Behind Gum Recession
Gum recession occurs when the gum tissue surrounding teeth pulls back or shrinks in size. As gums recede, increasing amounts of the tooth’s surface become exposed. Unprotected teeth are sensitive, susceptible to bacteria and tooth decay.
Studies show gum recession affects nearly half of the population. Early signs of gum recession include:
- Sensitivity: Receding gums expose teeth and roots, causing sensitivity.
- Spacing: Small pockets or indents can form between and behind teeth as gums recede.
- Bleeding: Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing can be an indication of a receding gum line.
Gum recession is incredibly common among adults, creating a sense of normalcy among sufferers. The truth is, gum recession is not a normal part of the aging process. Instead, gum recession can be a symptom of a more serious oral health concern.
Periodontal disease is an infection of the mouth. It affects gum and bone tissue and is one of the main causes of gum recession. Periodontal disease includes the following conditions:
- Gingivitis: Gingivitis occurs in the early stages of gum disease. Gingivitis is caused by bacteria found on plaque buildup. Gum inflammation, irritation and bleeding are signs of gingivitis, but it can be reversed if it’s treated early.
- Gum disease: Gum disease occurs when bacteria destroy gum and bone tissue. Also known as periodontitis, gum disease is the primary contributor to gum recession. If left untreated, gum disease can spread to tissues throughout the face and jaw, leading to additional complications.
Why Are My Gums Receding?
While periodontal disease is the leading contributor to gum recession, other causes include:
- Incorrect brushing and flossing procedures: Overly-aggressive dental hygiene can damage gums, creating space for bacterial buildup and causing recession.
- Damage and trauma: Injury, trauma and tooth grinding (bruxism) place undue force on teeth, which can eventually destroy the gum tissue.
- Genetic traits: Receding gum lines can be a hereditary trait.
- Malaligned teeth: An uneven bite places added force on the jawbone, which can damage the gums and cause them to recede.
- Tobacco use: Tobacco and other nicotine products restrict blood flow to the gums, causing damage and contributing to gum recession.
Regardless of the initiating event, the outcome typically remains the same. Gums recede, exposing teeth and roots and promoting tooth decay. If left untreated, gum recession can lead to tooth loss.
Can You Treat Gum Recession?
Fortunately, gum recession is treatable. The earlier you contact your dentist and get a treatment plan in place, the better your chances are to fully restore your gum line. Depending on the reasons your gums are receding, treatments for gum recession could include:
- Deep cleaning: Scaling and root planing are dental deep cleaning procedures targeting bacteria below the gum line. Deep cleanings combine two techniques. Scaling removes bacteria, while root planing smooths tooth surfaces, preventing future buildup.
- Gum grafting: Gum grafts restore receding gums using existing healthy tissue. Gum tissue can either come from donor tissue or from other areas of the mouth. It can be used to restore the small sections of the gum line, protecting exposed teeth.
- Osseous surgery: Bone loss due to gum disease is replaceable through a procedure known as osseous surgery. Osseous surgery is a bone grafting procedure used to repair and restore bone tissue, strengthening the bite.
209 NYC Dental Can Help
Regular visits to your dentist and proper oral hygiene offer the best defense against gum recession. If you think you’re experiencing gum recession, speak to a dentist today. Make an appointment online or call us at 212-355-2290.