As your family dentist in Monroe, WA, Dr. Travis Magelsen wants every patient to know the danger gum recession poses to their long-term oral health. Receding gum tissue is referred to as gingival recession. The healthy pink gum tissue that normally covers the roots of your teeth can become exposed when the tissue recedes from the base of a tooth or if the tooth is in an abnormal position.
Receding gums are a common and often unnoticed problem during the early stages of the condition. While there are a variety of risk factors for gum recession, age is the primary one. Approximately 88 percent of seniors over the age of 65 suffer from gum recession on one or more teeth.
The primary concern with gum recession is that when the delicate roots of your teeth become exposed, they are at a higher risk of infection, decay, and permanent tooth loss Fortunately, treatment can help to reverse or stop the process of gum recession when started early on in the process.
If the recession becomes severe and you also suffer from symptoms that include pain, tooth sensitivity, or infection, a variety of treatment options are available. These can include deep cleaning, medicine to fight infections, and even tissue grafts.
What Causes Gum Recession?
Periodontal disease – a severe form of gum disease – and poor oral hygiene are often the most common causes linked to gum recession. However, gum recession can still occur in patients who practice quality oral hygiene as well.
In a broader view, there are two main causes for gum tissue to recede:
- Inflammation of gum tissue
- Physical wear of the gums
Some individuals are more prone to receding gum due to inherited factors. These can include the thickness of their gum tissue and the position of their teeth.
Gum tissue can become physically worn down by excessive tooth brushing or brushing with hard bristles. Both practices can irritate gum tissue.
Patients who deal with these issue can have otherwise good oral health. Their gums and teeth appear healthy when receding gums are caused by over-brushing.
This type of recession often impacts the left side of the mouth more than the right. That’s because the majority of people are right handed, which makes it more likely they’ll apply more pressure on the left side of their mouth. This pattern also tends to affect the side gums more than the front.
Other physical factors that can impact gum recession include misaligned teeth, lip piercings, and damage caused by dental treatments.
Some individuals are simply more prone to the inflammatory causes of receding gum tissue. Individuals with thinner gum tissue have an increased risk of inflammation caused by plaque. The gums are also more delicate for some people.
The most common cause of gum recession, however, is periodontal disease. Periodontal disease results in the loss of supporting bone and tissue structure around a tooth through an inflammatory reaction. The gum recession tends to impact all your teeth in a similar way.
Periodontal disease is caused by the buildup of plaque, a sticky biofilm that forms of the surface of our teeth. Bacteria, cells, mucus, and other particles are involved in the formation of plaque.
When plaque builds up on the surface of our teeth, it causes:
- Inflamed gums, a condition known as gingivitis that’s an early stage of gum disease, which can cause periodontitis.
- Periodontitis causes spaces between your teeth and gums to develop. This in turn allow bacteria to attack the delicate roots of your teeth, which can result in a loss of the bone and connective tissues that hold your teeth into position. It’s this reason that periodontitis ranks as the leading cause of adult tooth loss.
The Treatment of Gum Recession
Fortunately, your family dentist in Monroe, WA, Dr. Travis Magelsen, has the ability to offer patients treatment for gum recession that can help to repair the damage the condition can cause.
While most cases of mild gum recession don’t need treatment, more severe cases can be treated with a variety of options that include:
- Composite restoration. Tooth-colored resin composites are used to cover the exposed root structure of your teeth. Composite restoration can also be used to close the gaps between teeth.
- Varnishes, dentine bonding, and desensitizing agents. These types of treatments are designed to reduce any sensitivity that may develop due to the exposed root of your teeth. This treats any nerve related symptoms and helps to keep your oral hygiene routines normal by allowing you to continue brushing sensitive teeth.
- Removable veneers. Typically made from silicone or acrylic, removable veneers slide over your existing teeth to provide additional protection to exposed roots.
- Gum graft surgery transplants tissue from one area of your mouth to another to heal over the site of gum recession.