General Dentistry |3 min read

Getting a Handle on Gum Recession

A serious oral health concern, gum recession occurs when the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth erodes away, or pulls back, exposing more of the tooth, or the tooth’s root. Receding gum ranks as one of the first signs of gum disease. When gum recession happens, “pockets,” or gaps, form between the gum line and teeth, making it easy for harmful bacteria to build up.

When left untreated, the supporting bone structure and tissue of teeth can become severely damaged, and may result in permanent tooth loss.

Gum recession is a common oral health problem. Most individuals don’t know they suffer from gum recession because the condition happens gradually. The initial sign of gum recession is typically tooth sensitivity, or you may begin to notice a tooth appears longer than before. Usually, a notch can be felt along the gum line.

Gum recession is not something you want to ignore. If you believe your gums have started receding, you need to make an appointment with Dr. da Costa who can perform treatments that can prevent further damage and repair the gum line.

What Causes Gum Recession?

A number of factors can lead to gum recession that includes:

Periodontal diseases. Bacterial gum infections, periodontal diseases can destroy gum tissue and supporting bone structure that holds your teeth into position. Gum disease ranks as the primary cause of gum recession.

Genetics. Some individuals may be more predisposed to the development of gum disease. In fact, studies have shown that 30 percent of the world’s population may have an increased susceptibility to gum disease regardless of how well they tend to their oral hygiene and health.

Aggressive brushing. If you over-brush or brush your teeth with too much force, it can cause the enamel on your teeth to wear down and the gum line to recede from the base of your teeth.

Poor oral care. Failing to brush and floss frequently can make it easy for plaque to develop into calculus – a hardened substance that can only be removed from the surface of your teeth through a professional oral cleaning – and begins to build up between teeth, which causes inflammation and irritation of gum tissue and can lead to recession.

Using tobacco products. Studies have found that individuals who use tobacco products have a higher likelihood of plaque sticking to the surface of their teeth making it harder to remove and increasing their risk of gum recession.

Clenching or grinding. Clinically referred to as bruxism, tooth grinding places a lot of unnatural force on your teeth, and can cause gums to recede.

Misaligned bite or crooked teeth. When teeth fail to come together correctly, excessive force can be placed on the bone and gums, allowing receding to occur.

Lip or tongue piercing. Jewelry can rub the gums and irritate the delicate tissue to the point that it begins to wear away.

Treating Gum Recession

Dr. da Costa may be able to treat mild gum recession through a deep cleaning of the affected area of the mouth. During the deep cleaning process – also referred to as root planning or tooth scaling – tartar and plaque that has built up on teeth and below the gum line on root surfaces is carefully removed and the exposed root area is smoothed in order to make it more difficult for bacteria to reinsert itself. Occasionally antibiotics are also given to a patient to get rid of any remaining harmful bacteria.

In cases where a patient’s gum recession cannot be treated with a deep cleaning due to excessive deep pockets or bone loss, gum surgery may be required to repair the damaged gum recession has caused.

If you have any questions about gum recession, be sure to ask Dr. da Costa during your next appointment.

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