Improper oral health hygiene has far-reaching, long-term consequences that go beyond cavities: Receding gums (or gingival recession) is the exposure of the roots of teeth caused by a loss of tissue surrounding the gums. Gum recession is common in adults over the age of 40, but younger adults may also experience it.
The cause of gum recession in most cases is the same cause of most oral health problems: inadequate brushing and flossing. This allows bacteria to build up between the teeth and below the gumline, which is a root cause of gum disease. This bacterial buildup leads to painless, chronic inflammation and occasional bleeding — similar to periodontal disease — and also causes a very gradual recession of the gums.
In most cases, gum recession is a progressive oral health condition that occurs over many years — one of the reasons it’s most common in those over the age of 40. Changes in the gums may remain totally unnoticed until the condition starts to more seriously affect oral health. The individual’s teeth may feel “loose” or overly sensitive to hot, cold, sweet, sour, or spicy food and drink. Teeth may appear longer than normal because of exposure of the tooth root, and they may appear to be a different color. Receding gums caused by periodontal disease will appear swollen or inflamed, may bleed, and are usually accompanied by bad breath.
Treatment for receding gums starts with addressing the root cause. Sometimes it’s as simple as changing brushing habits or toothbrushes, because overactive brushing may be the cause. Sometimes oral hygiene must be improved because the cause was poor plaque control; regular professional cleanings can help with this. Scaling or root planing, both of which are part of treatment for periodontal disease, can help resolve inflamed gums and keep bacteria in the mouth from contributing more to the disease.
Receding gums can be repaired as well. A soft-tissue graft can be performed to create more gum tissue, which usually heals in less than a month. Regular checkups and oral health examinations can help catch receding gums early, which is key to making a full recovery: When gum recession has not affected periodontal bone areas of the mouth, the recessed gums can be fully recovered.
Our dentists are a local community authority for oral health. If you or a loved one are concerned about gum recession and think you may be experiencing symptoms, contact us today. The earlier your gums are treated, the greater your likelihood of making a full recovery!