Gum recession is a form of gum disease and is a very common dental problem, especially in adults over the age of 65. Approximately 88% of people over the age of 65 have gum recession on one or more teeth. Gum recession occurs when you have gum tissue that has pulled away from the tooth. The roots are then exposed where it has separated from the tooth. There are three levels of gum recession–mild, moderate, or severe. Mild cases of gum recession may be improved with nonsurgical treatments like topical antibiotics, dental bonding, or orthodontics while severe cases will need surgery to correct.
Gum recession happens gradually so that you may not be aware of it until you are having tooth sensitivity or feel a notch on a tooth near the gum line. Don’t ignore these indications. When left untreated, gum recession can lead to cavities, damage to the supporting tissue and bone structure, or even lead to tooth loss. At Hamby Family Dental Center, your dentist in Fuquay Varina, we have experience with all forms of gum disease, including gum recession. We shed some light in this article on how to prevent getting receding gums and what the professional treatments are when you already have it.
Symptoms of Gum Recession
Most of the time, the first and most apparent sign of gum recession is tooth sensitivity and/or pain due to the root being exposed. Other common symptoms include:
- sensitivity to cold and heat
- changing tooth appearance, such as when a tooth appears longer and the space between gums and teeth increases
- bleeding after brushing and flossing
- inflamed and swollen gums
- bad breath
- loose teeth
Causes of Gum Recession
Gum recession can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- brushing too vigorously
- using a hard-bristled brush
- plaque buildup from poor dental hygiene
- gum disease
- misaligned teeth
- damage from dental work
- tongue piercings
- smoking or any tobacco use
Preventing Gum Recession
Brushing your teeth regularly with a soft-bristle toothbrush is crucial in preventing gum recession. Maintaining good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day and flossing each day can prevent gum disease that causes gum recession. It’s important to keep routine dental checkups and cleanings to ensure all tartar is removed that can cause gum disease, as well as to identify and treat when signs of gum disease are present. During biannual appointments, your dentist will measure the periodontal pockets around each tooth with a periodontal probe. Healthy pockets measure between 1 and 3 millimeters. When there is gingivitis, pockets measure 4 millimeters. If you have periodontal disease, your pockets will measure 5 millimeters or higher.
Here are some other ways to prevent gum recession:
- Quit smoking
- Eat a well-balanced and healthy diet
- Be aware of changes that occur in your mouth
Treating Gum Recession
Receding gums can’t grow back. However, there are steps you can take to treat gum recession when you have it.
Reducing Tooth Sensitivity
Your teeth get sensitive when the gum has receded because the tooth root is exposed. Tooth roots are not covered with a protective enamel as the top of the tooth is. Your dentist can apply a fluoride varnish or other desensitizing material to reduce discomfort. And, you can also use a desensitizing toothpaste at home.
When detected early, nonsurgical treatment can be highly effective in stopping the disease progression. Nonsurgical gum disease treatment depends on the extent of the disease. Each patient is carefully assessed in order to start an appropriate treatment.
- Scaling and root planing – This is a deep dental cleaning that can be done under local anesthesia to eliminate harmful bacteria under the gum line.
- Prescription medications – Antibiotics are prescribed when an infection is found. Your dentist may find it helpful to insert an antibiotic directly under your gums if there is an infection causing the gum disease.
- Laser gum treatment (LANAP/LAPIP) – Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure (LANAP) is an innovative nonsurgical alternative gum treatment technique that replaces traditional invasive periodontal surgery. This treatment uses medical-grade lasers to clear away infected surfaces, remove tartar and plaque buildup, and reduce the pockets between the teeth and gums where the bacteria are located.
- Dental bonding – Your dentist may be able to fill in the groove at the bottom of a tooth where the gum has receded. A tooth-colored composite resin is used to cover the exposed tooth root so as to make it less noticeable and more comfortable.
Gum Graft Surgery
Gum graft surgery covers exposed teeth roots and adds volume to the gum line, improving overall health. Gum grafting has a good success rate and can reduce your risk of progressing to severe gum disease. There are many gum grafting techniques and materials available. Typically, your periodontist takes tissue from the roof of your mouth and moves it to the area of recession. In some cases, they may use a substitute grafting material or tissue from a tissue bank.
You are given local anesthesia to numb your teeth and gums or the periodontist may offer sedation dentistry options to make you comfortable. Then, either healthy gum tissue is removed from the roof of the mouth or tissue obtained from a tissue bank is used to build the gum back where it has receded. Afterwards, the pain and discomfort you experience varies. If the periodontist uses tissue from a tissue bank, the pain is minimal. If they remove tissue from the roof of your mouth, you may feel pain for a few days. The healing process usually only takes 1 to 2 weeks, but it can take longer. Your gums not only look different after the surgery but may feel tighter and firmer as well.
Contact Hamby Family Dental Center for a Checkup Today
The dental team at Hamby Family Dental Center is knowledgeable in helping you prevent gum recession as well as treating gum disease. We work with you to get and keep a healthy smile! Contact us today for a teeth cleaning and checkup so we can help you prevent or correct oral issues you may have. Call us at 919-552-2431 or fill out the form below.