Gum recession is a dental condition where the gum tissue progressively pulls away from the teeth and gradually exposes the root underneath.
It can be caused by several factors such as aggressive brushing, smoking, genetics, plaque buildup, misaligned teeth, and periodontal disease.
The condition itself isn’t painful, but the resulting exposed tooth roots are very sensitive to air, cold, hot, and sweets. Additionally, the roots are open to decay and may eventually lead to tooth loss.
Our experienced Fuquay-Varina dentists can diagnose the condition and provide treatment options for your receding gumline. This article outlines some of the different treatment options you can learn about on how to stop gum recession.
Symptoms of Gum Recession
The following are common symptoms of gum recession:
- Tooth root exposure
- Sensitivity to heat, cold, and sweets
- Sensitivity when brushing and flossing
- Pain or discomfort near the gum
- Sensitivity during dental cleanings
Causes of Gum Recession
What causes gum recession? Here are a few reasons why your gums may be receding:
- Brushing too hard
- Tartar and plaque accumulation
- Periodontal disease
- Injury to your gum tissue
- Tooth misalignment
- Chewing tobacco
- Lip and tongue piercings
- Genetic predisposition
Diagnosing Gum Recession with Your Dentist
Your dentist can diagnose gum recession while performing a routine exam by using a periodontal probe. This probe measures the amount of gum recession on each tooth. Bone loss is common where gums are receding. For the dentist to assess if bone loss has occurred and how much, he/she will measure the periodontal pockets around each tooth. A healthy pocket measures between 1 and 3 millimeters. With gingivitis, pockets measure 4 millimeters and with periodontal disease, pockets measure 5 millimeters or higher.
Treatment Options for Receding Gumlines
Keep in mind, unfortunately, it’s not possible to grow gum back where it has receded and is exposing the tooth root. However, there are steps you can take to prevent gum recession from worsening and to alleviate symptoms.
Gum Graft Surgery
The most predictably successful treatment option for gum recession is gum graft surgery where a gum graft replaces the missing gum tissue. The graft is usually taken from the roof of your mouth or sterilized human donor tissue and is stitched to the gum. It can last a lifetime, provided you take proper care of the area.
Bone grafting is needed for severe gum recession where there has been extensive decay and there is no bone to secure a soft-tissue gum graft. Bone from the patient’s own body is preferred; however, if this isn’t possible, freeze-dried bone from a tissue bank or mineral bone substitutes can be used.
Fluoride Varnish and Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth
Sensitivity is a result of the tooth root being exposed. The tooth root is not covered with the protective enamel that the upper tooth is; therefore, it is more sensitive. One treatment the dentist often recommends is applying fluoride varnish or other desensitizing agents that reduce the discomfort of receding gums. Your dental hygienist can use numbing agents to make you more comfortable during dental cleanings.
Additionally, there are specific toothpastes that reduce the discomfort associated with gum recession and contain ingredients to calm the nerves inside your teeth. Such active ingredients as potassium nitrate, stannous fluoride, arginine, and strontium chloride are found in toothpaste for sensitive teeth. It usually takes several weeks for you to feel the full benefit of a desensitizing toothpaste, so you need to continue to use it.
Deep Cleaning of Periodontal Pockets
Treatment may involve a deep cleaning of the periodontal pockets to remove the plaque and tartar buildup. This process is called tooth scaling, open flap scaling, and root planing. Typically, this is done under local anesthesia. In this procedure, the dentist or periodontist folds back the affected gum tissue, removes the harmful bacteria from the pockets, and then secures the gum tissue over the tooth root to eliminate the pockets.
Regenerating Lost Bone
When the bone supporting your teeth has been destroyed from gum recession, a procedure to regenerate the lost bone and tissue may be recommended. Just as with pocket depth reduction, the dental professional folds back the gum tissue and removes the bacteria. A regenerative material such as a membrane, graft tissue, or tissue-stimulating protein is applied. This stimulates your body to regenerate bone and tissue in that area. After the material is put in place, the gum tissue is secured over the root of the tooth or teeth.
The dentist may prescribe antibiotics to kill the remaining bacteria after performing the deep cleaning or regeneration procedure. Depending on the degree of gum disease diagnosed, a periodontist may recommend inserting an antibiotic directly under the gums to help treat the condition.
Dental bonding with a tooth-colored composite resin can be applied to camouflage the area of recession and make the tooth more comfortable.
When your teeth are misaligned, it can cause gum recession. If this is the case, the dentist may recommend braces to correct the alignment, which may also correct the gum margin over time.
Contact Us Today for Gum Recession Treatments in Fuquay-Varina
Our team at Hamby Family Dentistry takes the utmost care in providing our patients with comfortable treatments. Call us at 919-552-2431 or complete the form below to schedule an appointment for your oral health.