Many dental patients suffer from gum recession and receding gums. There are a variety of factors that impact this condition and most gum recession is treatable. But what exactly causes receding gums? What types of treatment are available for gum recession? And are there cases when receding gums aren’t treatable?
Gum Recession Causes and Treatment Options
Here is our best advice about what causes receding gums and treatment options for gum recession.
What causes receding gums?
Receding gums are caused by a number of factors, including:
Genetics: Some patients are more susceptible to receding gums. In fact, some studies show up to 30% of the population are prone to receding gums, even if they take great care of their teeth.
Periodontal disease: periodontal disease is a chronic gum infection that can destroy gum tissue and the surrounding bone around the teeth. The most common form of periodontal disease is gingivitis, which typically has symptoms like red, puffy and bleeding gums. Left untreated, gum disease will eventually erode gum tissue and can cause even more serious oral health issues.
Hormones: As women experience changes in estrogen over their lifetime, they can be more susceptible to receding gums during pregnancy or menopause.
Brushing too hard: Patients that “scrub” with their toothbrush or brush too hard can cause their gums to recede.
Poor dental care: Patients that don’t practice good oral hygiene can get an excess of plaque and tartar build up and suffer from receding gums.
Smoking: Smokers develop a stubborn form of plaque that can be difficult to remove completely with each brushing. This build-up can cause gums to recede.
Grinding or clenching teeth: Exerting too much force on your teeth can cause gum recession.
Age: Senior citizens and the elderly tend to be more prone to gum recession.
Crooked bite: If you have a bite that’s misaligned (e.g. a very deep overbite or crossbite), you can put too much pressure on surrounding gums and cause recession.
As you can see, there are many factors that can cause gum recession. You can be especially susceptible if you have one or more of these factors. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent and treat gum recession.
What are treatment options for receding gums?
One of the best things you can do to prevent gum recession is to practice good oral hygiene habits. Brushing twice a day for at least two minutes with proper technique is one of the best ways to keep gums healthy. Make sure you never brush too hard, and instead use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gently brush each tooth. You can even very lightly brush your gums (if you have a harder-bristled toothbrush, run it under warm water to soften the bristles). Always make sure to floss, and never skip your twice-yearly teeth cleaning exams.
If your gums are receding because of periodontal disease, it’s important to build a treatment plan with your dentist. Depending on the severity of the disease, you may need to undergo a series of deep cleanings or “scalings” to remove tartar and buildup on the roots of your teeth. Milder forms of gum disease (like gingivitis) typically require extra attention to brushing and flossing at home, and using a mouthwash specifically formulated to fight gingivitis.
Since one of the main symptoms of receding gums is increased sensitivity, your dentist might recommend a sensitive toothpaste or a varnish for the roots. These steps will help to ease sensitivity on exposed roots.
In some cases, your dentist might recommend composite restoration (material used to cover the exposed root). This step can help cover gaps between the teeth or cover missing gum tissue. In cases where teeth simply aren’t in the right position, your dentist might recommend orthodontics to move the teeth. This tactic can help the gums settle more naturally around the teeth.
Severe gum recession might require gum surgery to restore gums. With this treatment, your dentist or periodontist will graft health tissue taken from another part of the mouth to the area being treated. This treatment can be especially helpful to patients who have healthy mouths, but are genetically predisposed to recession. Surgery can not only improve the cosmetic appearance of a patient’s mouth, but can also bring much needed relief to sensitive roots.
Most gum recession is typically treatable, though patients that struggle with maintaining good oral hygiene and have severe periodontal disease may not be able to treat gum recession until they are restored to good oral health. If you’re not sure if your gum recession is treatable, talk to your dentist or periodontist about your options.
Remember: The above information should be used as general guidelines and should not be substituted for medical advice. If you have questions about gum recession, you should contact our skilled dentists right away for a dental exam.
Gum Recession and Gum Disease Treatment in Columbus Ohio
We are proud to help Central Ohio patients achieve their healthiest smiles. If you are suffering from gum disease or gum recession, our professional dentists can help restore you to your best oral health. Contact us to schedule your next visit!