Gum Recession: Causes and Treatment
By Andrew Mortensen, DDS on June 30, 2014
Gum recession is a common problem among patients, even those who have typically good hygiene and dental health. In most cases, recession is very gradual and therefore not immediately noticeable. However, if the source is not identified and addressed, ongoing recession can negatively impact a smile and lead to loosening teeth. Moreover, gum recession is often indicative a deeper, more serious threat to your health.
If you suspect that you may be suffering from a receding gum line, our Fountain Valley dental practice is prepared to help. Use the information below to gain a cursory understanding of this condition and its possible underlying factors. By following up with an appointment, you can gain a professional diagnosis and, if necessary, restorative dentistry treatment.
Gum Recession and Gingivitis
Receding gums are most often the result of gum disease. In its earlier stages, gum disease is seen as gingivitis - an inflammation of gingival tissue. Symptoms also include sensitive gums, bad breath, reddened gums, and pockets of infection beneath the gum line. Gum disease is typically caused by inconsistent hygiene, smoking, genetic predisposition, or a combination thereof.
Most forms of gingivitis have relatively mild symptoms, but if disease is allowed to spread, it can progress into periodontitis - an inflammation of both gingival and bone tissue. At this stage, gums will recede and loosen more significantly, and even bone tissue will begin to decay from the jaw. More severe cases can even lead to tooth loss, while all instances of gum disease increase one’s long-term risk of other conditions such as heart disease or rheumatoid arthritis. If you suspect you have gingivitis or periodontitis, schedule an appointment with your dentist. With the right periodontal treatment, you can preserve your gums as well as your general health.
Other Causes of Gum Recession
If gum recession is not caused by disease, it may be the result of other environmental or biological factors. Consider whether any of the below influences may play a role in your recession:
- A hard toothbrush: Dentists recommend using a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid eroding teeth and gums. If your brush’s bristles are too hard or you brush too aggressively, it may encourage the gradual recession of gum tissue.
- Lip piercings: Any jewelry in your mouth may rub against gum tissue constantly, wearing away at it.
- Tobacco use: Cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco are all detrimental to dental health. They increase the likelihood of gum disease and may cause gum recession on their own.
- Crowded teeth: When teeth are crooked or crowded, they push against each other, creating stress around their roots and supporting gum tissue. This pressure weakens the gums, causing them to recede more easily.
- Bruxism: Habitual teeth clenching or grinding also puts pressure on teeth, leading to the erosion of both enamel and gum tissue.
- Hormones: When women undergo significant hormonal changes, such as during pregnancy or menopause, their gum tissue is often weakened.
In addition to the above factors, patients tend to become more prone to gum recession as they age. This is doubly true for those who are already genetically predisposed to gum disease or who have a weakened immune system.
Treatment for Gum Recession
If your gum recession is caused by an external factor such as brushing, tobacco, or a piercing, you may be able to slow or stop it completely by changing said factor. For conditions such as bruxism or crooked teeth, different options are available to protect your teeth and correct your bite.
Since gum disease is the most common cause, however, many patients may require periodontal treatment to preserve their gums. For milder cases of gingivitis, daily brushing and flossing habits may be enough to reverse the spread of disease. More advanced instances of gingivitis and periodontitis may call for additional treatment, such as a deep cleaning or flap surgery. Each of these procedures aim to clean out infection from beneath the gums, while polishing nearby roots of teeth and treating the area with antibiotics. If your gums have already suffered the effects of recession from disease, there is a good chance that the rest of your mouth is also at an elevated risk of decay. Speak with your doctor about the periodontal treatment available to you and what you can do to prevent future infection.
Schedule an Appointment
Dr. Mortensen can help you smile brighter, healthier, and more confidently with a combination of restorative and cosmetic treatment. Whether you have a receding gum line or nearly any other dental concern, contact our office to schedule your next appointment.
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“I am proud to have served patients in our community. Through continuing education and state-of-the-art equipment, we are able to offer you and your family the high level of care you're looking for.” Andrew G. Mortensen, D.D.S.