Do you feel a sharp pain in your teeth when you drink hold or cold beverages? Is your smile looking bigger over time—a lot more “toothy” than before? These are just some of the most common signs of gum recession. Not a lot of people are aware that their gums have receded until they experience these common symptoms—and by then, treatment, like soft tissue grafting, is required. But, what exactly is gum recession, and how does it happen?
What is gum recession?
Gum recession happens as your gums pull away from the teeth, causing them to appear bigger than usual. In severe cases, receding gums cause the roots of the teeth to be increasingly exposed, resulting in tooth sensitivity.
This process is gradual, occurring over time, so much that anyone barely notices until they experience tooth sensitivity. Unfortunately, receding gums cannot simply grow back. Instead, a periodontist will need to treat the exposed root through soft tissue grafting.
Why Receded Gums Need Soft Tissue Grafting
Did you know that healthy gums play a major role in maintaining oral health? The gums shield the teeth and protect their roots from damage.
The soft tissue, known as the gingiva, attaches the teeth to connective tissues that protect the teeth and bone. Meanwhile, the gingival mucosa—acting like movable or elastic gum tissue—protects the inside of the gums and cheeks. Finally, the gingival margin at the edge of the gumline encloses the teeth.
When the gums recede, the gingival margin shifts away from the teeth and exposes the root. This results in exposed tooth nerve endings, indicated by heightened sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks. Exposed tooth roots can also lead to tooth decay. To prevent further recession and restore healthy gums, your periodontist can perform soft tissue grafting.
What causes gum recession? Most common causes
There are a number of factors that cause gum recession. Find out directly from our periodontists, and learn about your treatment options:
1. Gum disease
Gum, or periodontal disease is one of the most common causes of gum recession. It occurs as a result of bacteria accumulation along the gum line, forming plaque or tartar. As gum recession progresses, pockets form in the gums, causing even more bacteria to accumulate. To prevent this, make sure to follow proper dental hygiene.
2. Over-brushing and aggressive flossing
Regular brushing and flossing are the basics of good dental care and oral health, but are you doing these correctly? Yes, there is such a thing as too much or over-aggressive brushing. This is abrasive to the gums and causes irritation. Over time, over-brushing and flossing can wear down the tooth enamel, resulting in increased sensitivity.
It starts with your toothbrush. Choose one with soft bristles, and focus on proper brushing techniques. Brush and floss thoroughly to prevent cavities and tooth decay, but without causing soreness and bleeding.
3. Poor oral hygiene
The opposite of over-brushing, failing to keep up with proper oral hygiene can also contribute to gum recession. A lack of daily oral hygiene along with regular dental cleanings will cause harmful bacteria to accumulate in the mouth, forming plaque and tartar. Over time, these can cause tooth decay and gum disease, and eventually, gum recession.
4. Misaligned teeth
Poorly aligned teeth can affect the gums, since these are interdependent structures inside the mouth. Misaligned teeth or a misaligned bite can exert extreme pressure on adjacent teeth and the gum tissue supporting them. Without proper dental treatment, this can result in gum recession.
5. Genetic factors
Your DNA determines your physical features and overall health, including any predisposition to certain medical and dental conditions. For some, this can result in misalignment of the teeth or bite, leading to gum recession as discussed above. As well, even with proper oral hygiene habits, the gums can still recede faster than the normal rate. Keeping up with proper dental and periodontal care can allow a periodontist to address this early on, and ensure your gums are healthy.
6. Grinding and clenching your teeth
Known as bruxism and often occurs in sleep, grinding or clenching the teeth also exerts pressure on the gum tissue that support them. Eventually, this can cause gum recession and tooth loss. A periodontist can prescribe a mouthguard you can wear at night to prevent this.
Suffering an injury to the mouth can knock out one or several teeth at once. However, the injury doesn’t end there. Along with emergency dental care, it’s important to consult a periodontist to check on your gums. Without proper treatment, this significant trauma can cause the gums to recede.
Smoking is harmful to your health, including your teeth and gums. Regular usage of tobacco products has been linked to gum recession.
Soft Tissue Grafting and Other Gum Recession Treatments at Periodontal Associates
While gum recession means your gums will not grow back, our periodontists can help you restore the health of your gums, and your smile. Periodontal Associates offers a number of treatment options for receding gums, depending on the degree of recession.
- Scaling and root planing: Think of it as intensive dental cleaning, wherein our periodontists eliminate the plaque and tartar at the roots of teeth where the gums are starting to recede.
- Gum contouring: Our periodontists will reconstruct and straighten your gum line using a laser or scalpel, in order to make it easier to clean and keep healthy.
- Soft tissue grafting: Also known as gum grafting, this involves taking tissue from the roof of the mouth or adjacent healthy gums and applying it to the exposed roots of teeth. Soft tissue grafting is one of the most common and long-lasting treatments for gum recession, as it essentially provides you with healthy gum tissue.
More importantly, our periodontists in Mississauga are here to help you keep your gums strong and healthy in the long term. Following your soft tissue grafting or other periodontal treatment for gum recession, we’ll advise you on preventing further damage to your gums, and monitor your periodontal health.
Does your smile look more “toothy” than before? Find out what’s causing your gum recession. Talk to our periodontists in Mississauga today, and learn more about your treatment options.