Gingival recession (receding gums) refers to the progressive loss of gum tissue, which can eventually result in tooth root exposure if left untreated. Gum recession is most common in adults over the age of 40, but the process can begin in the teenage years.
Gum recession can be difficult to self-diagnose in its earlier stages because the changes often occur asymptomatically and gradually. Regular dental checkups will help to prevent gum recession and assess risk factors.
Gum recession is a dental condition where the margin of the gum tissue surrounding the teeth wears away or pulls back, revealing more of the tooth or its root. When gum recession occurs, “pockets” or gaps form between the teeth and gum line, making it easy for disease-causing bacteria to build up. At Sisko Dentistry in Tallmadge, OH, we believe in educating our patients about the causes, symptoms, and treatments available for gum recession.
The following symptoms may be indicative of gum recession:
- Sensitive teeth – When the gums recede enough to expose the cementum protecting the tooth root, the dentin tubules beneath will become more susceptible to external stimuli.
- Visible roots – This is one of the main characteristics of a more severe case of gum recession.
- Longer-looking teeth – Individuals experiencing gingival recession often have a “toothy” smile. The length of the teeth is perfectly normal, but the gum tissue has been lost, making the teeth appear longer.
- Halitosis, inflammation and bleeding – These symptoms are characteristic of gingivitis or periodontal disease. A bacterial infection causes the gums to recede from the teeth and may cause tooth loss if not treated promptly.
Causes of Gum Recession
Gum recession is an incredibly widespread problem that dentists diagnose and treat on a daily basis. It is important to thoroughly examine the affected areas and make an accurate diagnosis of the actual underlying problem. Once the cause of the gum recession has been determined, surgical and non surgical procedures can be performed to halt the progress of the recession, and prevent it from occurring in the future.
The most common causes of gingival recession are:
- Overaggressive brushing – Over brushing can almost be as dangerous to the gums as too little. Brushing too hard or brushing with a hard-bristled toothbrush can erode the tooth enamel at the gum line, and irritate or inflame gum tissue.
- Poor oral hygiene – When brushing and flossing are performed improperly or not at all, a plaque build up can begin to affect the teeth. The plaque contains various bacterial toxins which can promote infection and erode the underlying jawbone.
- Chewing tobacco – Any kind of tobacco use has devastating effects on the entire oral cavity. Chewing tobacco in particular, aggravates the gingival lining of the mouth and causes gum recession if used continuously.
- Periodontal disease – Periodontal disease can be a result of improper oral hygiene or caused by systemic diseases such as diabetes. The excess sugars in the mouth and narrowed blood vessels experienced by diabetics create a perfect environment for oral bacteria. The bacterium causes an infection which progresses deeper and deeper into the gum and bone tissue, eventually resulting in tooth loss.
Why Addressing Gum Recession is Crucial
Gum recession is not just a cosmetic concern; it can be a precursor to more severe dental issues. When left untreated, the teeth’ supporting tissue and bone structures can become severely damaged, potentially leading to tooth loss. Furthermore, because the exposed root can be more susceptible to decay, this condition can heighten the risk of developing cavities on the roots of the teeth. Addressing gum recession early can save your smile and prevent complex and costly treatments in the future.
The Path to Healing: Treatment Process
At Sisko Dentistry, our approach to treating gum recession is thorough and patient-focused. The process typically involves:
- Assessment: Our doctor will conduct a comprehensive examination to determine the extent of the recession and its underlying causes.
- Deep Cleaning: Often, the first step in treatment is a deep cleaning procedure known as scaling and root planing. This procedure removes plaque and tartar from the tooth and root surfaces.
- Surgical Options: For more severe cases, surgical procedures like gum grafting may be necessary to protect the teeth from further recession and restore a healthy gum line.
Preventing Gum Recession
Prevention is always better than cure. By adopting good oral hygiene practices, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing gum recession:
- Regularly brush and floss to remove plaque and prevent gum disease.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and avoid aggressive brushing.
- Schedule routine dental check-ups to monitor and maintain oral health.
- Protect your teeth from trauma, and consider using a mouthguard if you clench or grind your teeth.
Treatment of Gum Recession
Every case of gum recession is slightly different, and therefore many treatments are available. The nature of the problem which caused the recession to begin with needs to be addressed first.
If overly aggressive brushing techniques are eroding the gums, a softer toothbrush and a gentler brushing technique should be used. If poor oral hygiene is a problem, prophylaxis (professional dental cleaning) may be recommended to rid the gum pockets of debris and bacteria. In the case of a severe calculus (tartar) build up, scaling and root planing will be performed to heal the gingival inflammation and clean the teeth.
Once the cause of the gingival recession has been addressed, surgery of a more cosmetic or restorative nature may be recommended. Gum tissue regeneration and gum grafting are two excellent ways to restore natural symmetry to the gums and make the smile look more aesthetically pleasing.
The Road Ahead: Post-Treatment Outlook
Following a gum recession treatment, patients typically notice a marked enhancement in both their oral health and overall comfort levels. This improvement not only alleviates immediate concerns but also aids in preventing future oral complications. However, the journey doesn’t end there. It’s imperative to maintain regular dental visits after the treatment.
These check-ups are pivotal in monitoring the healing process and ensuring that the gum recession does not reoccur. It’s also worth noting that some patients might experience initial tooth sensitivity after the procedure. Fortunately, this temporary setback usually diminishes as the gums continue to heal and shield the tooth root once more.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes gum recession?
Gum recession can result from several factors, including periodontal diseases, aggressive tooth brushing, insufficient dental care, hormonal changes, and even genetics.
How can I prevent further gum recession?
Maintaining good oral hygiene, using a soft-bristled toothbrush, avoiding aggressive brushing, and attending regular dental check-ups at Sisko Dentistry are crucial steps in preventing further recession.
Is the gum recession treatment painful?
Most treatments, such as deep cleaning, have minimal discomfort. If surgical procedures are required, local anesthesia is used to ensure patient comfort. Post-treatment, some sensitivity or discomfort is normal but usually subsides quickly.
Embark on Your Oral Health Journey
Are you concerned about gum recession? Trust the experienced team at Sisko Dentistry in Tallmadge, OH, to guide you to optimal oral health. Let’s discuss your concerns and plan the best treatment route for you. Call us today at (330) 633-9510 and take the first step towards a healthier smile.