Receding Gums 101

One of the most common, and often unnoticed, oral health issues facing many adults is receding gums. Receding gums, or gingival recession, is when the pink gum tissue that typically covers the root of the tooth is pushed back. There are many risk factors associated with the condition, but age is a main one. According to a recent article from Medical News Today, 88% of people older than 65 have receding gums in at least one tooth. The primary concern associated with receding gums is that exposed roots are at risk for decay, infection, and potential loss. If caught in time, treatment of gingival recession can stop or reverse the process. If the condition progresses, and the patient experiences pain or infection, there are still several options for treatment.

Gingival recession is often the result of poor oral hygiene or periodontal disease. But the condition can happen to individuals who have good oral hygiene too. In general, there are two causes of receding gums: physical wear of the gums and inflammation of the gum tissues. Inherited factors, such as tooth position and gum thickness can also contribute to development of receding gums. When a person brushes their teeth too hard for years on end, receding gums is often the result, despite having great oral health otherwise. Lip piercings, misaligned teeth, and damage from dental treatments can also cause gum recession. For those born with thinner gum tissue, inflammation caused by plaque is more likely, and susceptibility to periodontal disease is inevitable.

If you have receding gums, you may be concerned about the way your smile is changing in appearance, or the sensitivity you are now experiencing, or even the fear of losing your teeth. But rest assured, there are several treatment options. If your gum recession is caught early enough, your dentist may only need to give you advice on prevention while he regularly monitors the situation. For those who need further treatment, the following are the most common options:

  • If you’re experiencing sensitivity, varnishes, dentine bonding agents and desensitizing agents can all provide relief.
  • For aesthetic help, composite resins can be used to cover the root surface and close black gaps between teeth. Pink porcelain or composite can be matched to the same color of gums. Removable gingival veneers, made from acrylic or silicone, are also an option.
  • Orthodontics might be your best option to move and reposition your teeth to correct the gum margin.
  • Finally, a tissue graft surgery may be required. Tissue is taken from elsewhere in the mouth and heals over the gum recession.

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