Everything You Need to Know About Receding Gums (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Thursday, June 24, 2021
Everything You Need to Know About Receding Gums (But Were Afraid to Ask)

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.

The Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of Receding Gums

A Black man looks in the mirror and examines his gums for signs of periodontal disease. 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.

Young Black woman has tooth sensitivity while drinking hot coffee which could be a sign of receding gums. Signs of Periodontal Disease

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:

  • Bleeding gums, especially when brushing your teeth.
  • Pain and swelling at the gum line.
  • Bleeding and discomfort when flossing.
  • Increased tooth sensitivity to hot and cold.

How Do You Fix Receding Gums?

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.

A young Latino man holds his cheek in pain while brushing his teeth which may be a sign of receding gums. 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.

Can Receding Gums be Reversed?

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.