What is gingival recession?
Gingival recession (Receding gums) is a condition in which your gums pull back from the tooth surface, exposing the root surfaces of your teeth. It’s just one form of gum (periodontal) disease.
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 are, the better the outcome is.
How common is gingival recession?
Gingival recession is a common problem in adults over the age of 40, but it may also occur starting from the age of a teenager, or around the age of 10.
However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of gingival recession?
Some common signs and symptoms of gingival recession include:
- Bleeding after brushing or flossing
- Red, swollen gums
- Bad breath
- Pain at the gum line
- Visibly shrinking gums
- Exposed tooth roots
- Loose teeth
When should I see my doctor?
Early diagnosis and treatment can stop this disease from worsening and prevent other medical emergencies, so talk to your doctor as soon as possible to prevent this condition.
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes gingival recession?
There are a number of factors that can cause your gums to recede, including:
- Periodontal diseases: These are bacterial gum infections that destroy gum tissue and supporting bone that hold your teeth in place. Gum disease is the main cause of gingival recession.
- Your genes: Some people may be more susceptible to gum disease. In fact, studies show that 30% of the population may be predisposed to gum disease, regardless of how well they care for their teeth.
- Aggressive tooth brushing: If you brush your teeth too hard or the wrong way, it can cause the enamel on your teeth to wear away and your gums to recede.
- Insufficient dental care: Inadequate brushing, flossing, and rinsing with antibacterial mouthwash makes it easy for plaque to turn into calculus (tartar), a hard substance that builds on and between your teeth and can only be removed by a professional dental cleaning. It can lead to gingival recession.
- Hormonal changes: Fluctuations in female hormone levels during a woman’s lifetime, such as in puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, can make gums more sensitive and more vulnerable to gingival recession.
What increases my risk for gingival recession?
Some risk factors of this condition include:
- Hardened plaque buildup (tartar)
- Family history of gum disease
- Certain medications that cause dry mouth can also increase your risk for receding gums. Dry mouth means your mouth has less saliva than it should. Without adequate saliva, the tissues in your mouth can become vulnerable to bacterial infections and injuries.
Diagnosis & Treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is gingival recession diagnosed?
Gingival recession and other forms of periodontal disease are diagnosed by a dentist. A physical examination can indicate such issues. A probe may also be used to measure gum pockets. A probe is a process that uses a small, painless ruler. Normal pocket sizes range between 1 to 3 millimeters. Anything larger is a sign of gum disease.
A diagnosis of gingival recession may warrant a referral to a periodontist. This type of dental specialist can determine the best course of treatment to save gum tissues and your teeth. First, if an infection is found in the gums, antibiotics may be prescribed.
How is gingival recession treated?
Mild gingival recession may be able to be treated by your dentist by deep cleaning the affected area. During the deep cleaning, also called tooth scaling and root planning, plaque and tartar that has built up on the teeth and root surfaces below the gum line is carefully removed and the exposed root area is smoothed to make it more difficult for bacteria to attach itself. Antibiotics also may be given to get rid of any remaining harmful bacteria.
If the gingival recession cannot be treated with deep cleaning because of excess loss of bone and pockets that are too deep, gum surgery may be required to repair the damage caused by gingival recession.
The following surgical procedures are used to treat gingival recession:
- Pocket depth reduction: During this procedure, the dentist or periodontist (gum doctor) folds back the affected gum tissue, removes the harmful bacteria from the pockets, and then snugly secures the gum tissue in place over the tooth root, thus eliminating the pockets or reducing their size.
- Regeneration: If the bone supporting your teeth has been destroyed as a result of gingival recession, a procedure to regenerate lost bone and tissue may be recommended. As in pocket depth reduction, your dentist will fold back the gum tissue and remove the bacteria. A regenerative material, such as a membrane, graft tissue, or tissue-stimulating protein, will then be applied to encourage your body to naturally regenerate bone and tissue in that area. After the regenerative material is put in place, the gum tissue is secured over the root of the tooth or teeth.
Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage gingival recession?
Perhaps one of the best tools for preventing gingival recession is to see a dentist for regular cleanings and checkups. Even if you don’t experience any symptoms, a dentist can identify early signs of gum disease. You can also help prevent gum problems by practicing smart oral health habits. While regular flossing and brushing can remove bacteria, food particles, and plaque, tartar may only be removed with a dental cleaning. Since tartar can contribute to gum disease and receding gums, this is why biannual cleanings are so vital in preventing these types of complications. If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Gingival recession. http://www.healthline.com/health/dental-oral-health-receding-gums#Complications5. Accessed Mar 2, 2017.
Gingival recession. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/receding_gums_causes-treatments#2. Accessed Mar 2, 2017.
Review Date: March 2, 2017 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019