Receding gums are a condition where your gums pull back from the tooth surface, exposing the root surfaces of your teeth. Receding gums are most common in adults 40 and over. For this reason, it’s often misconceived as a normal sign of aging.
This is a serious consequence of poor oral health, which may lead to tooth loss. There are a variety of treatments available depending on the severity of tissue loss. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment of receding gums, the better the outcome.
Receding gums don’t automatically mean that you have gum disease, though. It’s true that gum disease is the leading cause of gum recession, but there are many other causes of gum recession including:
- Overly aggressive brushing or flossing. It’s great to be enthusiastic about oral care, but according to an article in the Journal of Periodontology Online, you should make sure that you’re brushing, not scrubbing! Never use a toothbrush that isn’t labeled “soft.” When you don’t use soft toothbrushes and brush too hard, the gum cells are scrubbed away and the teeth enamel is removed.
- Genetics. Your gums’ characteristics are determined by your genetics, just as the rest of your body is. If one or both of your parents have gum recession, you’re at a higher risk for receding gums.
- Abnormal tooth positioning. If your teeth are not in alignment to one another, gum recession can occur.
- Grinding your teeth. Do you often wake up with a headache? Does your spouse or partner complain that you grind your teeth? This habit can be the cause of many dental issues other than gum recession, so let your dentist know right away if you think you are grinding your teeth. Teeth grinding can be treated easily and painlessly with a mouth guard and several other options.
- Trauma to gum tissue. The gum tissue may recede when a traumatic injury has occurred on a tooth or teeth.
- Poor oral health. If your oral health habits are questionable, gum recession may be a result of periodontitis.
Working with your dentist, you can determine the root cause of your gum recession and come up with a treatment plan.
If you’ve been diagnosed with gum disease, depending on the severity, you’ll likely be presented with a few different treatment options. Scaling and root planning is a careful deep cleaning below the gums, while gum surgery is a more serious option that is reserved for the most advanced cases of periodontitis.
If gum recession is serious, a procedure called gum grafting can restore lost gum tissue. This procedure involves taking gum tissue from somewhere else in the mouth and grafting or attaching it to the area that has lost gum tissue.
Gum recession can happen slowly, so it’s important to take a good look at your gums and teeth every day. If you notice receding gums and you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, make an appointment soon.