Why Gums Recede and What You Can Do About It

You may think that as you age, the only receding thing you need to worry about is your hairline. Unfortunately, your gums may recede, too. Gum recession is most common in adults age 40 and over.

What Is Gum Recession?

The margin of the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth can wear away and expose more of the tooth or even the tooth’s root. Gum recession occurs gradually, and you may not even notice it happening until you have tooth sensitivity.

Gaps between the teeth and gum line make it easy for bacteria to build up, which can damage the teeth and result in bone loss if left untreated.

Symptoms of Gum Recession

The first sign of receding gums may be tooth sensitivity, or you may just notice that one of your teeth looks really long. As recession progresses, other, more severe symptoms may appear such as red, swollen gums or bleeding after brushing or flossing. Bad breath, exposed tooth roots, and even loose teeth may also occur.

Causes of Gum Recession

Gum recession is considered a form of periodontal disease, and it can be caused by many factors, including:

  • Brushing teeth too hard or the wrong way
  • Tartar (hardened plaque build-up) caused by inadequate brushing and flossing
  • Hormonal changes in women during puberty, pregnancy and menopause
  • Diabetes or other diseases such as HIV
  • Family history of gum disease; studies show that 30 percent of the population is predisposed to gum disease no matter how well they take care of their teeth
  • Smoking or using other tobacco products
  • Teeth grinding
  • Lip or tongue piercing that can rub or irritate the gums

What to Do if You Have Gum Recession

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of gum recession, contact Enlighten Dental Care to schedule an appointment for an examination. The first step is to do a deep cleaning of the affected area. This deep cleaning is called tooth scaling and root planing. The plaque and tartar that has built up are carefully removed, and the exposed root area is smoothed, which makes it more difficult for bacteria to attach. The dentist may also prescribe antibiotics to get rid of any remaining harmful bacteria.

More severe cases of gum recession with pockets that are too deep and/or loss of bone may require surgery. With a soft tissue graft, tissue is removed from the roof of the mouth and used to surround the exposed root. With another procedure, called an open flap scaling and root planing, the affected gum tissue is folded back, bacteria is removed, and the gum tissue is secured over the tooth root. If bone has been destroyed, the patient may require a procedure to regenerate lost bone and tissue.  

Gum recession is not something you should ignore. If you suspect you have it, contact Enlighten Dental Care at (336) 765-0904 today.

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