Gum recession (gingival recession) or receding gums refers to the progressive loss of gum tissue, which can eventually result in tooth root exposure if left untreated.
Gum recession can be difficult to self-diagnose in its earlier stages because the changes often occur without symptoms and gradually.
Gum recession is a common problem in adults but it may also start to occur in teenage years. Treatment depends on the cause of gum recession.
Why are my gums receding?
There are many causes of gum recession and it is important to determine the cause as early as possible. Common causes of recession include:
- Overzealous toothbrushing or improper use of an electric toothbrush or even scrubbing with a manual toothbrush can have a serious impact on the appearance of your gums. Excessive force when brushing can start to wear away the gum tissue, and does not guarantee good oral hygiene and plaque removal.
- Periodontal disease or gum disease causes the destruction of the gums, periodontal ligaments, and bone that holds the teeth in place. This can result in recession. However, if you have poor oral hygiene and swollen and inflamed gums, you may not be able to see this until your oral hygiene improves. Once you start brushing sufficiently and effectively, cleaning interdentally, and receive appropriate periodontal treatment, the inflammation, swelling and bleeding will reduce, revealing the true extent of gum recession. This is caused by active (untreated) periodontal disease and not as a result of the treatment. Over time gum recession would become more severe without our appropriate intervention for gum disease.
- Oral piercings are piercings of the tongue, lips or cheek. Individuals with tongue piercings are more likely to develop gum recession in the lower lingual (near, or on the side towards the tongue) region of their front teeth than individuals without piercings. Gum recession can increase the risk of sensitivity and of root decay and can produce a poor aesthetic appearance. Trauma to the gum is observed more frequently in relation to lip piercings. Other complications of piercings include: tooth fracture, wear of teeth, speech impediment, infections and allergic response.
- Smoking is the biggest cause of periodontal disease and causes the destruction of the gums, periodontal ligaments, and bone that holds the teeth in place and contributes to gum recession in the same way as active periodontal disease as highlighted above. Smokers tend to have a reduced response to non-surgical and surgical intervention and are at higher risk of infections.
- Previous orthodontic treatment may lead to gum recession. The lower central incisors and the upper first molar teeth are the most commonly affected. In some studies movement of teeth outside the jawbone has been reported as a risk factor for gum recession. In some instances having worn braces can lead to gum recession as the teeth are pushed against the thin bone that surrounds them, leading to bone and gum recession.
- Abnormal tooth positioning. If your teeth are not in alignment to one another, gum recession can occur in this situation due to the roots of the teeth not being well centered within the jaw bone.
The following symptoms may be indicative of gum recession:
- Sensitive teeth – When the gums recede enough to expose the cementum protecting the tooth root, the dentine tubules beneath will become more susceptible to external stimuli such as hot, cold and sweet.
- Visible roots – This is one of the main characteristics of a more severe case of gum recession.
- Longer-looking teeth and black triangles – Individuals experiencing gum recession often have a “toothy” smile. The length of the teeth is perfectly normal, but the gum tissue has been lost, making the teeth appear longer. Larger spaces between teeth can also result in “black triangles”
- Bad breath, inflamed and bleeding gums – These symptoms are characteristic of gingivitis or periodontal disease. A bacterial infection causes the gums to recede from the teeth and may cause tooth loss if not treated promptly.
Receding gums treatment
As soon as you notice any abnormalities with your gums, you should get in touch with Pure Periodontics for a consultation. They can advise you on the best course of action, tailoring your receding gum treatment to your individual needs.
There are various stages of gingival recession so it’s paramount that the type of recession you have is identified before treatment is considered.
The treatment required for receding gums is dependent on the extent of the recession. You may simply need to see the dental hygienist for instructions on how to carefully clean the teeth in an atraumatic way, you may need some deep cleaning, or you may need to see the specialist periodontist for gum surgery. Seeking advice at the earliest signs of gum recession can prevent the need for surgical intervention.
How to stop receding gums
When it comes to treating receding gums, the only thing better than treatment is prevention, so as long as you take care of your gums, you greatly reduce the chances of suffering from receding gums. Many are misled into believing that it’s just a consequence of growing older, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Following these simple steps can help to avoid recession:
- Cutting back on bad habits, like smoking for example, as this makes it harder for the gum tissue to repair itself.
- Ensuring you maintain a effective oral hygiene, including brushing and cleaning between the teeth on a daily basis. An unclean mouth makes it much easier for gum recession to develop because of the build up between the teeth.
- Regular cleanings with your dental team to eradicate any plaque buildup as well as monitoring the current state of your gums.
Unfortunately, some people are predisposed the risk of gum recession, because of a susceptibility or their natural gum anatomy, but this doesn’t mean you can’t take preventative measures.
To find out more about Receding gums please call us on 020 7247 7400 to speak with our friendly team or fill out our contact form.