Gum recession or shrinking gums is a common dental issue that can lead to tooth sensitivity and possibly serious oral health issues if not addressed. Let’s explore what gum recession is, the causes of gum recession, and the available treatments to manage and prevent further damage.

What is Gum Recession?

Gum recession or shrinking gums occurs when the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth shrinks or wears away and exposes more of the tooth or its root. This will create gaps or spaces between the teeth and gums, making it easier for bad bacteria to build up. When gum recession is not treated, bone and tissue structures that support the teeth can be damaged, potentially leading to tooth loss.

Causes of Gum Recession

Periodontal Diseases: Bacterial gum infections that destroy gum tissue and the supporting bone holding your teeth in place are the primary cause of gum recession. Periodontal diseases are generally the result of poor oral hygiene.

Genetics: Some people are more susceptible to gum disease due to genetic factors, regardless of how well they care for their teeth.

Aggressive Brushing: Frequently brushing teeth too hard or the wrong way can wear down the enamel on your teeth and push your gums back.

Inadequate Dental Care: Infrequent brushing, flossing, and rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash make it easy for plaque to harden into calculus or tartar. This hard substance builds on and around teeth and can only be efficiently removed through a professional dental cleaning. Tartar can lead to gum recession.

Hormonal Changes: Changes in hormone levels, especially in women, can make gums more sensitive and vulnerable to gum recession.

Tobacco Use: Tobacco products contribute to gum recession in several ways, including by causing inflammation and reducing saliva flow.

Teeth Grinding and Clenching: Excessive force from grinding or clenching your teeth can cause gum recession by putting pressure on the gums.

Misaligned Bite or Crooked Teeth: If teeth do not interface evenly, excessive force can be placed on the gums and bone, leading to recession.

Symptoms of Gum Recession

  • Longer-looking teeth
  • Visible roots of the teeth
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Gums that feel tender or bleed easily
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth

Treatment for Gum Recession

Treatment of gum recession depends on its severity. Non-surgical treatments can manage early stages, while more advanced cases may require surgical intervention.

Scaling and Root Planing: A deep cleaning dental procedure where hardened tartar and plaque are removed from below the gumline. The roots are then smoothed to make it harder for bacteria to attach.

Antibiotics: These may be prescribed to eliminate any remaining bacteria and reduce inflammation.

Gum Graft Surgery: Tissue is taken from another part of your mouth (or from a donor) and attached to the affected area. This can help reduce further recession and cover exposed roots.

Pinhole Surgical Technique: A less invasive option where a small hole is made in the gum tissue, and special instruments are used to loosen and reposition it over the exposed roots.

Regeneration: In cases where the bone supporting your teeth has been destroyed due to gum recession, a regenerative material may be applied to the affected area to encourage your body to regenerate bone and tissue.

Tissue Stimulation Proteins: These proteins are applied to the diseased root surfaces to encourage the growth of healthy tissue.

Preventing Gum Recession

Prevention is always better than cure. Follow these tips to prevent gum recession:

  • Ensure good oral hygiene by brushing twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Don’t forget to floss daily, and use an antibacterial mouthwash.
  • See your dental professional regularly for check-ups and dental cleanings.
  • Use a proper brushing technique to avoid damaging your gums.
  • Quit smoking or drastically reduce it and other forms of tobacco use.
  • Eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated.
  • Wear a custom-made mouthguard if you grind your teeth while sleeping.

Understanding the causes and treatment options for gum recession can help you take proactive steps to maintain your oral health. If you notice signs of shrinking gums or gum recession, consult your dentist promptly to prevent further damage and ensure the longevity of your smile.

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Mississauga, ON, L5B 0B6
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