Do your teeth look like they are getting larger? Have you noticed spaces between your teeth that were not there before? If so, then your gums may be receding from your teeth. This is called gum recession and it is a common problem for many people. In this blog post, we will define gum recession, talk about what causes it to happen, and list what treatments are available to help reverse or slow down its progression.
What is Gum Recession?
Gum recession is a common dental problem that happens when the gums start to retreat, or pull away, from your teeth. In many cases, this can happen gradually over time. When your gums pull away from your teeth, this leaves more of the tooth root exposed to plaque and bacteria. As a result, there are increased risks for cavities and other dental problems to occur.
Gum recession can also cause periodontal pockets to form. Periodontal pockets are spaces between the teeth and gums that can become filled with bacteria. If left untreated, this can make gum recession worse. In severe cases, this infection can also cause bone and tooth loss.
What Causes Gum Recession?
There are a number of things that can cause gum recession to occur, including:
- poor oral hygiene habits: not brushing or flossing enough can cause gum disease
- gum disease (gingivitis or periodontitis): the build-up of plaque and bacteria on the teeth can cause the gums to become infected and recede.
- smoking or tobacco use: chemicals can slow the healing process
- genetics: some people are genetically predisposed to gum recession
- tooth grinding during sleep: can irritate the gums or lead to inflammation.
- brushing too hard: irritated gum tissue and causes it pull away from the teeth
- hormones: can lead to gum inflammation.
How to Treat Gum Recession
Receding gums do not grow back once they’ve receded. However, there are a number of treatments available to help slow down gum recession. These include:
Periodontal Scaling and Root Planing:
This is a deep cleaning treatment that removes plaque and calculus from the visible portion of the teeth, as well as from the tooth roots. Removing excess bacteria helps to decrease inflammation and gum recession. After scaling the teeth, the tooth roots are planed to smooth out their surface and decrease future plaque from accumulating.
This surgical procedure involves taking healthy tissue from another part of your body (usually the roof of your mouth) and grafting it onto the receded gums. This helps to thicken the gum tissue and decrease the chances of further recession. Since the procedure also covers the tooth roots, gum grafts also decrease the risk of tooth decay and sensitivity.
Regular dental exams can help identify early signs of gum recession so that treatment can be started sooner. If caught in its early stages, gum recession may only require a deep cleaning procedure to reverse.
You can also do a few things at home that will help reduce gum recession! First, make sure to brush and floss your teeth twice daily – this helps remove plaque before it has time to build up into tartar or calculus (calculus is hardened dental plaque). Second, quit smoking or using tobacco products. Smoking and chewing tobacco can cause inflammation in the gums, which leads to recession. Finally, reducing your sugar intake can also decrease the amount of bacteria in the mouth, as well as gum recession.
Gum recession is a common problem for many people. The good news is it’s treatable and can be reversed with the right dental treatment plan, such as scaling and root planing or gum grafts. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment to see Glow Dental today!
Dr. Alina Huang has been practicing dentistry in Manhattan for the last eight years. She was born in New York City, and raised in California where she received her Bachelor’s degree at UCLA, and her D.D.S. at the University of the Pacific in San Francisco. She then made her return to NYC where she completed her General Practice Residency at Montefiore Medical Center and has been working in private practice ever since. She continues her learning by attending courses to stay current with the latest advancements in dentistry and refine her skills.