Gum (gingival) recession occurs when gums recede from the tops of the teeth enough to expose sensitive roots. People typically experience increased sensitivity to sugary or cold foods when gums no longer cover and protect teeth roots. In addition, untreated gum recession may lead to loosening of teeth and accelerated tooth decay, something Drs. Olivia Collier and Jon Engelby see all too often.
Causes of Gum Recession
- Periodontal disease – a serious oral disease arising from poor oral habits
- Gingivitis – gum disease characterized by bleeding and swollen gums
- Overly aggressive brushing and/or flossing – brushing hard in a scrubbing fashion will erode gum tissue at the roots of teeth
- Genetic predisposition to gingival recession – having inherited thin, insufficient gum tissue facilitates gum recession
- Bruxism – a condition where someone regularly grinds their teeth, usually during sleep
- Chewing tobacco/smoking – promotes chronically dry mouth and reduced gum health
Periodontal gingivitis may also cause causing drooping of the gums instead of gum recession. A gingivectomy removes excess gum tissue weakened by bacterial decay while a gingivoplasty can reshape gums around the teeth. If sagging or receding gums are left untreated, they may develop pockets (gaps) that provide hiding places for food particles, mucus and other mouth debris conducive to anaerobic bacteria growth. As the most destructive type of oral bacteria, anaerobic bacteria is responsible for tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, and chronic halitosis.
Treatments for Gum Recession
Corrective actions need implemented as soon as possible to reverse gum recession by addressing the cause. For example, people who brush with hard-bristled toothbrushes should switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush more gently. If gum recession is the result of poor oral hygiene, improve oral hygiene habits by brushing after meals, flossing, rinsing with non-alcoholic mouthwash, and getting dental checkups and cleanings every six months. For severe cases of gum recession, soft tissue grafts can add gum tissue to exposed roots by removing tissue from the person's palate and attaching it to existing gums at the area of recession via laser surgery.
If you’re worried about gum recession, visit our Sedro-Woolley or Bellingham, WA office and talk to a member of our team.