Receding gums | Are your roots starting to show?

receding gums

Receding gums is a common dental problem, but it is also among the lesser known conditions. Receding gums can also be referred to as gingival recession. Let us examine the causes of this condition and the treatments.

What causes receding gums?

There are several causes that can contribute to recession. It’s important to work with your dentist to determine the cause of your gum disease and create a plan moving forward.

Gum Disease

The most common cause of a receding gum line is gum disease. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, develops when oral bacteria cause pockets to form between tooth and gum tissue. 

Inevitably, this bacteria ends up destroying the soft tissue. When these pockets form, the bacteria breed and thrive. Over time, gums recede and leave tooth root partially exposed.

Crowding or Crooked teeth

When teeth are crowded or crooked there is usually some overlap of the teeth. Due to this overlap, there isn’t always enough space to brush the teeth adequately. Flossing may also prove difficult as it’s not always possible to get in between the teeth. This allows plaque to build up without you ever realizing it’s there. 

Improper Dental Hygiene 

Poor dental hygiene can also play a role in receding gums. Failure to brush and floss on a regular basis can lead to plaque buildup. Over time, this buildup can cause the gums to recede. 

This is why it is so important to schedule routine examinations with your dentist. The dentist conducts a thorough examination of your teeth and gums. If any plaque is present it will be removed during your cleaning.

Tobacco Products

While cigarette smoke can leave your teeth stained and discolored, it can also wreak havoc on your gums. Tobacco products tend to leave a sticky residue on the teeth which is very difficult to remove. This sticky residue acts like plaque and can inevitably lead to recession of the gums. 

How can receding gums be identified?

With gum disease, bleeding, red, swollen, and tender gums are usual telltale warning signs. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is wise to make a dentist appointment as soon as possible. Diagnosing recession is relatively easy because there is something visibly wrong. You may also experience some tooth sensitivity because the root of the tooth is exposed. Unlike teeth, teeth roots aren’t covered with protective enamel.

You may also begin to notice that a tooth appears longer. Obviously the tooth hasn’t grown, but the gums have receded which allows more of the tooth to be visible to the naked eye. 

What are the dangers of receding gums?

Receding gums have also been linked to serious oral problems. For example, gum disease has been linked to several very serious health issues. Some health issues include heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and pregnancy and birth complications.

Once the gum tissue and surrounding bone become weak this causes the teeth to become loose. Left untreated, gum recession can become severe and lead to tooth loss.

Recession can also lead to painful infections. The gums become so irritated from the plaque and tartar buildup that the gums become inflamed.

How Do I prevent bacterial buildup in my mouth?

The best way to prevent receding gums is to use an effective oral hygiene program. This consists of brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and also rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash/oral rinse, and having professional dental exams and cleanings every six months by Dr. Fondriest and your hygienist.

If you tend to develop plaque quicker then you may need to come in for dental cleanings more often than the recommended every six months. The dentist will be able to assess your teeth and gums during your appointment. Make your smile look better by keeping a regular schedule with cleanings. 

How can a dentist correct receding gums?

Identifying recession in the early stage is key. This can help reduce the effects and also prevent tooth loss. Dr. Fondriest can provide medical advice to prevent bone loss and loose teeth. There are a few in office procedures that can be performed to help prevent the gums from undergoing further damage.

Deep Cleaning

Deep teeth cleaning, also known as scaling and root planing, can remove tartar buildup at and below the gum line. Removal of the tartar beneath the gum line is imperative to help improve the state of your gums. 

Depending on the severity of the tartar buildup, you may be required to come in for multiple cleanings. Your dentist will discuss this with you in further detail and advise accordingly.

gum graft before and afterGum grafts can correct receding gums

More severe cases of receding gums may require gum grafts or other gum contouring techniques. A gum graft is performed to prevent tooth loss and to help restore the gum. A gum graft essentially takes gum from another area of the mouth, such as the roof of the mouth, and places it in the area over the exposed roots of the teeth. This can help the healthy gum grow back and prevent further gum recession. 

Reduce Your Chances of More Recession

Like many other oral health conditions, the best prevention is maintaining good oral health. If your gums have already started to recede, you can help prevent worsening by maintaining a quality oral hygiene routine at home. It is also wise to avoid any sugary foods and drinks, processed foods, caffeine, tobacco products, and alcohol. You should make it a point to come in for your regularly scheduled exams and cleanings. 

Dr. James Fondriest is a well known cosmetic dentist serving metropolitan Chicago. He treats patients that have a variety of oral and dental conditions. Depending on your specific needs and the severity of your gum recession, Dr. Fondriest can suggest treatment plans to treat your condition and promote long term oral health. If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Fondriest, call our office at (847) 234-0517.