These are signs of gum recession, a very common dental problem that often occurs gradually with few or no symptoms. It is more common as people age, affecting up to 75 percent of people over age 60.
What Are Receding Gums?
Gum recession occurs when the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth wears away or pulls back to expose more of the tooth or the tooth’s root. It is also one of the first signs of gum disease and may be called “gingival recession.”
What Causes Receding Gums?
There are many reasons why your gums may recede.
- Gum disease caused by inadequate brushing and flossing. Bacteria builds up between the teeth and in the gum line causing chronic inflammation and a gradual loss of gum tissue.
- Brushing too hard. Ironically, brushing too aggressively or brushing the wrong way is another cause of gum recession. [Check out how to properly brush your teeth.]
- Genetics. Some of the population is genetically predisposed to thin, fragile gum tissue that can predispose them to gum disease and recession.
- Hormones. Female hormone fluctuations can make gums more sensitive and vulnerable to gum recession.
- Smoking or using smokeless tobacco products.
- Grinding your teeth (bruxism), crooked teeth or misaligned bite. Too much force can be placed on the teeth, gums and bone, which can cause the gums to recede.
- Lip or tongue piercing. The gum tissue can become irritated and wear away.
Do Not Ignore Gum Recession
Gum recession is not a condition you can ignore. “Pockets” or gaps can form between the gum line and the teeth, which leaves plenty of room for the build-up of disease-causing bacteria. Left untreated, these bacteria can severely damage the bone structure and supporting tissue, which can cause the tooth or teeth to fall out.
Treating Gum Recession
The type of treatment for gum recession depends on how severe the problem is.
- Tooth scaling and root planning. If your case of receding gums is mild, it may be treated with a deep cleaning of the affected area by dental professionals. During this process, the plaque and tartar that have built up on the teeth and root surfaces below the gum line is carefully removed. Then, the exposed root area is smoothed to make it more difficult for bacteria to attach. Antibiotics may also be prescribed to get rid of any remaining harmful bacteria.
- Pocket depth reduction. With this procedure, the dentist or periodontist gently pulls back the affected gum tissue, removes the bacteria and tartar from the pockets, and then secures the gum tissue in place over the tooth root. This may take place under local or general anesthetic.
- Regeneration. This is a procedure to regenerate lost bone and tissue if the bone supporting your teeth has been destroyed. After a pocket depth reduction, a regenerative material is applied to encourage your body to naturally regenerate bone and tissue in that area.
- Soft tissue graft. There are typically three different types of grafts, and you dentist will determine which kind is best for your specific needs.
If you notice your gums receding or have any tooth sensitivity, contact Enlighten Dental Care today at (336) 765-0904.