Gums can recede or wear away gradually, exposing the pink tissue covering the tooth roots. Gum recession can become a health concern when your tooth roots become exposed, leaving your teeth at risk of decay, infection, or loss.
Fortunately, early detection and treatment for gum recession can help stop and reverse the condition. But if the recession is severe and causes symptoms like tooth sensitivity, infection, or pain, you may need to seek treatments such as deep cleaning, antibiotics, or tissue grafts.
Causes of Gum Recession
Several factors can cause your gums to pull back. For example, if your tooth is in an abnormal position, gums around it might recede. However, periodontal disease or gum disease is the primary cause of gum recession. Bacterial gum infections can destroy your gum tissue and supporting bone holding your teeth in place, causing them to pull back.
Due to factors like genetics, age, and pregnancy, some people are more susceptible to gum disease and, as a result, gum recession. In fact, studies indicate that 30% of the population could be predisposed to gum disease even if they care for their teeth exceptionally well.
Other causes of gum recession include:
- Insufficient dental care
- Body piercing of the tongue or lip
- Aggressive tooth brushing
- Hormonal changes
- Grinding or clenching your teeth
- Tobacco use
- Misaligned bites or crooked teeth
By visiting your dentist for routine exams twice a year, you can improve your chances of catching and preventing gum recession. Your dentist can advise on lifestyle changes to lower your risk of gum recession, in addition to helping you spot common signs of this condition.
Signs of Gum Recession
If you are experiencing gum recession, you might not be concerned early on and may not even recognize that your gums are receding. However, when gum recession begins to worsen, you may experience the following:
- Fear of losing teeth
- Concerns about the changing appearance of your smile
- Sensitivity to cold and hot foods and drinks due to exposed tooth roots
- Bad breath
- Bleeding gums
Besides these symptoms, receding gums could be a symptom of underlying dental issues, including gum disease. It can also increase the risk of tooth decay or tooth loss.
Treatments for Gum Recession
Dentists can treat mild gum recession through deep cleaning. During the deep cleaning, also known as tooth scaling and root planning, your dentist or dental hygienist removes plaque and tartar that has accumulated on your teeth and root surfaces under the gum line. The surfaces are then smoothed to make it harder for bacteria to reattach. Sometimes, your dental team will administer to get rid of any lingering harmful bacteria.
If your receding gums cannot be treated with deep cleaning due to excess loss of bone or pocket depth, gum surgery may be required to fix the damage. Depending on your specific situation, several other treatment options are available, including:
- Desensitizing agents, dentin bonding agents, and varnishes
- Composite restoration
- Pink porcelain or composite
- Removable gum veneers
- Orthodontics or clear aligners
Preventing Gum Recession
The most effective way to prevent gum recession is to take good care of your oral health. Be sure to brush and floss your teeth each day and see your dentist at least twice a year. If you already have gum recession, your dentist may schedule more frequent appointments. Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush and learn proper ways to brush your teeth. If your gum recession was triggered by teeth grinding or misaligned teeth, talk to your dentist about the best ways to correct the problem.