The gums, clinically called periodontal tissue, provide one component of the support for your teeth. It also provides a layer of protection for the roots of your teeth.
Over time, your gums may start to recede, or pull away from the teeth. Receding gums can happen for a variety of reasons, but it is not always obvious because it is a gradual process. How do you know if your gums are receding? Here are some common signs.
Signs and Symptoms of Receding Gums
If your gums are receding, you may notice any of the following:
- Long teeth. As the gums pull away from your teeth you may notice that your teeth look longer than they used to.
- Increased sensitivity. Lack of gum tissue exposes the roots of your teeth, which can cause sensitivity. Heat, cold, and sugar can tweak the nerves in your teeth.
- Red or swollen gums. The early signs of gum disease are referred to as gingivitis. Red or swollen gums are often a warning sign that the gums have become infected.
- Bleeding gums. Bleeding gums can mean that gum disease has set in, and may result in the gums pulling away from the teeth.
Causes of Gum Recession
There are a few potential causes for receding gums:
- Gum disease. The most common cause of gum recession is gum disease. The infected gum tissue pulls away from the teeth as bone loss occurs and the disease progresses.
- Brushing too vigorously. If you brush your teeth too hard or too fast you can wear away your gum tissue.
- Using a hard or even a medium bristled toothbrush. Brushing your teeth with a hard/medium bristled toothbrush can also cause your gums to wear away.
- Using abrasive toothpaste. Some toothpastes are overly abrasive, such as those containing high levels of baking soda which can cause the gums to recede.
- Overusing whitening products. Teeth whitening products contain harsh ingredients that can irritate and burn your gums. Overuse of these products, especially whitening strips not properly utilized, can lead to receding gums.
- Genetically thin gums. Many people inherit thin gums which can increase the susceptibility for gum recession.
Treatment for Receding Gums
There are a few options for treating receding gums. Unfortunately, lost gum tissue will not grow back on its own, even after gum disease is under control. The following treatment options can replace lost gum tissue.
- Gum Grafting. Gum grafting is a procedure that uses your own tissue from the palate (roof of your mouth) to replace lost gum tissue over the teeth. The tissue is applied to the teeth which heals with tougher gum tissue reducing the susceptibility to further recession and can potentially recover the exposed roots.
- Chao Pinhole Technique. The Chao Pinhole Technique is an another procedure for treating gum recession. A small hole is made in the gums and donor collagen is inserted to stretch the existing gum tissue and encourage growth of new tissue to cover the teeth.
Why See a Periodontist for Receding Gums?
A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the treatment of periodontal issues. Dr. Gordon can evaluate the causes for the recession and recommend different treatment options that are best suited to your needs. With decades of experience, Dr. Gordon and his team at Progressive Periodontics & Implant Dentistry can provide for your expert care.
Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions About Receding Gums
Can gum recession be prevented?
The best way to prevent receding gums and periodontal disease is to take good care of your teeth. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once a day to remove the bacteria (plaque) that cause infection. Use a soft bristled toothbrush or an electric soft bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste with fluoride. See your dentist regularly to address any issues before they get serious. If adult orthodontics is on your list, it is best to see a periodontist to rule out issues before orthodontic treatment starts as asymptomatic gum infections and recession can be exacerbated with the orthodontic treatment.
Do receding gums always need treatment?
Whether or not you need treatment for receding gums depends on the severity of the situation. Your dentist will inform you of issues that need early treatment before they progress into more serious problems including tooth sensitivity, loosening, and potential tooth loss.