Receding gums is a problem that’s also known as gingival recession. This occurs when the pink gum tissue that normally covers the root of the tooth is pushed back or the tooth moves into an abnormal position to expose the root of the tooth. Receding gums are common and often go unnoticed in the early stages. What are the causes for receding gums, and what can be done to prevent or correct them? Flintlock Dental will go over the basics of receding gums below!
Risk Factors for Receding Gums
There are a few risk factors to consider when it comes to receding gums. The main concern is that the root of the tooth is exposed. This leaves the tooth at risk for decay and infection. If the gum recession is severe and left untreated, it can lead to tooth sensitivity, pain, and infection. It can even lead to the eventual loss of one or more teeth.
Ignoring the warning signs and not keeping up with regular oral health increases the risk of developing receding gums. However, age is the largest risk factor of all with 88 percent of people over the age of 65 having receding gums on at least one tooth.
Causes of Receding Gums
Receding gums can be caused by a number of reasons, from life habits to genetics. Here are a few factors that could lead to receding gums:
Overly aggressive brushing and/or flossing. As you brush your teeth, make sure you are brushing gently and not scrubbing hard. You should also avoid using toothbrushes that are not labeled as soft. Remember that taking care of your teeth is not supposed to hurt!
Genetics. Just like the rest of your body, your gums' characteristics are also determined by genetics. If one or both of your parents have gum recession, you are at a higher risk for receding gums.
Grinding your teeth (bruxism). This habit can be at the root of many dental issues, not just gum recession. If you have this habit, it's best to talk to your dentist as soon as you can. Teeth grinding can be treated easily with a mouth guard or other options.
Abnormal tooth positioning. If your teeth are not in alignment with one another, gum recession can sometimes occur.
Poor oral health. If you have poor oral health habits, gum recession could end up being a result of periodontitis.
Treatments for Receding Gums
As with other health issues, it’s best to catch receding gums early. Treatment for mild receding gums typically does not require professional fixes. Your dentist can help you identify what is causing the issue and help instruct you on how to fix it yourself.
If you do need professional treatment, you will likely have to go to a periodontist. This specialist will help you determine the best course of action to take. Some are an easy fix, while others can be more time consuming and a little more painful. Here are a few types of treatment that you may be offered if you have receding gums:
Change the oral health habits that caused receding gums in the first place. You would need to do this regardless of other treatments, but if caught early enough, it may be all that is needed.
Having a special, deeper cleaning of your teeth called a scaling and root planing. This is what is often done when receding gums are caused by periodontitis. You would also receive a new specialized toothbrush with instructions on how to best care for your mouth as it recovers.
You may need a surgical treatment depending on the severity and cause of your gum recession. This is a procedure that would be done by your periodontist and is called a gum graft.
Desensitizing agents can be added to your teeth. These aim to lessen the sensitivity that develops in the exposed tooth root. This treats the nerve symptoms and helps you keep normal oral hygiene and brushing with less pain.
Composite restoration can be done as well. This is a tooth-colored composite resin that is used to cover the root surface. They can also be used to close black gaps between teeth.
While there are many causes for receding gums, the best way for you to help prevent them for yourself is to keep up a good regimen of oral health, complete with regular visits to your dentist. Catching it early is key, but should you need further treatment later on, there are many options available to you. In that case, an experienced dental professional will be able to help you make the decision that is best for you.
If you want more information on dental treatments, check out Flintlock Dental’s blog on the pros and cons of teeth whitening!