Do your gums appear to be receding or pulling away from your teeth? If so, you are not alone. According to research, three out of four adults have some form of gum disease, including receding gums around at least one tooth. Even younger adults can have the condition, causing discomfort and sensitivity in the recessed areas.
Although gums don’t grow back once they are lost, treatment options can prevent further damage and reduce discomfort. At Penn Dental Family Practice, our experienced periodontists routinely address gum recession using the most advanced dental technology and care methods. We strive to find the best treatment for each individual’s case.
You may be wondering what causes your gums to recede. The answer varies from patient to patient, but typically gum recession is caused by one of the following conditions:
Gingivitis. Poor dental hygiene, such as not brushing and flossing correctly, or often enough, and not seeing your dentist for check-ups, can cause plaque to build up on the teeth. Over time, plaque can harden into tartar, which may irritate the gums and cause bacteria buildup that leads to inflammation.
Periodontitis. Untreated gingivitis can progress into periodontitis or gum disease. Chronic inflammation as a result of periodontitis, can cause receding gums as well as contribute to bone and tooth loss.
Brushing the wrong way. Brushing your teeth too vigorously or with a hard-bristled toothbrush can accelerate gum recession and increase irritation.
Tobacco. Smoking, chewing, and other forms of tobacco use can damage the gum line.
Trauma. Receding gums can result from injuries to your teeth, mouth, and gums. Ill-fitting dentures that irritate the tissue can also affect gum health.
Genetics. Some individuals are born with weak or compromised gums, making them more prone to receding gums.
Symptoms of receding gums are usually noticeable. The most common sign is being able to see a portion of the root of the tooth when you smile or open your mouth. Other common symptoms include:
At Penn Dental Family Practice, our doctors always seek the safest, most effective ways to treat receding gums.
In the early stages, treatment will likely focus on oral hygiene and reversing gingivitis. This may include a recommendation for a soft-bristled toothbrush and prescription toothpaste to control plaque and tartar, as well as deep dental cleaning, known as scaling and root planning.
In extreme cases, treatments may focus on reducing further damage and replacing lost gum tissue with prosthetic options. Possible treatment approaches include:
Composite restoration of the gums. Your Penn Dental Family Practice periodontist may suggest using color-matched porcelain or composite material along the natural gum line where the tooth root is exposed.
Gum veneers. If the gums have receded extensively, then removable acrylic or silicone veneers can replace the missing gum tissue.
Orthodontic options. Crowding or alignment issues can make brushing and flossing a challenge, so moving teeth to improve access may help prevent further gum recession.
Surgical grafting. Our Penn Dental Family Practice periodontists are skilled in grafting healthy tissue from other areas of the mouth onto damaged areas, repairing missing or severely damaged tissue.
Once the gums have receded, they cannot grow back. The best way to protect your gums is to prevent further damage. In addition to making oral hygiene part of your daily routine and getting regular dental checkups, your Penn dentist may suggest adding varnishes and other desensitizing agents to help reduce pain, sensitivity, and discomfort to help you maintain a healthy mouth.
If you’re concerned about your gum health, make an appointment today for an exam and evaluation by calling our office at 215-898-7337.