Receding Gums: Everything You Need to Know

RECEDING GUMS

Table of Contents

If you’ve noticed that your gums have started to pull away from your teeth, or your teeth look longer than usual, you might be experiencing receding gums. This is a common Dental Problems that affects many people, but it’s important to address it as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your teeth and gums.

What is Receding Gums?

RECEDING GUMS

Receding gums, also known as gingival recession, is a condition in which the gums pull back from the teeth, exposing the tooth root. This can lead to sensitivity, pain, and even tooth loss if left untreated. Receding gums can affect one or more teeth and can occur gradually or rapidly.

  • About 50% of adults in the United States have some form of gum recession
  • Prevalence of gum recession increases with age, with 88% of adults over age 65 having at least one site with gum recession
  • Males are nearly twice as likely to have gum recession as females

Causes and Risk Factors 

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Several factors can contribute to receding gums, including:

  • Gum disease: The most common cause of receding gums, which happens when bacteria in the mouth build up and cause inflammation of the gums, leading to them pulling away from the teeth.
  • Brushing too hard: Brushing your teeth too vigorously or with a hard-bristled toothbrush can wear away the enamel on your teeth and cause receding gums.
  • Genetics: Some people may be more prone to receding gums due to their genetic makeup.
  • Hormonal changes: Women may experience receding gums during pregnancy, menopause, or other hormonal changes due to hormonal fluctuations.
  • Tobacco use: Smoking or using other tobacco products can increase the risk of developing gum disease and receding gums.
  • Grinding or clenching your teeth: This can put excessive pressure on your teeth and gums, leading to receding gums.
  • Crooked teeth: Crooked or misaligned teeth can be more difficult to clean properly, leading to plaque and tartar buildup, and an increased risk of gum disease and gum recession.
  • Damaged or faulty fillings: Fillings that are damaged or faulty can create spaces where bacteria can accumulate, leading to gum disease and gum recession.
  • Bridges or partial dentures that no longer fit: Dental appliances that no longer fit properly can create spaces where bacteria can accumulate, increasing the risk of gum disease and gum recession.
  • Genetic predisposition: Some people may be more susceptible to gum disease and gum recession due to their genetic makeup.
  • Hormonal changes due to pregnancy or oral contraceptives: Changes in hormone levels can make the gums more susceptible to gum disease and gum recession.
  • Medications that cause dry mouth: Certain medications can cause dry mouth, which can increase the risk of gum disease and gum recession.
  • Specific disorders such as Down syndrome and Crohn’s disease: Some medical conditions can increase the risk of gum disease and gum recession.
  • Stress: Stress can weaken the immune system and make it more difficult for the body to fight off infections, including gum disease.
  • Diabetes: People with diabetes are at an increased risk of gum disease and gum recession.
  • Advanced age: As we age, the risk of gum disease and gum recession increases.

Read more: Gum Disease and Diabetes: Signs, Treatment and Preventive Oral Care

Symptoms

The symptoms of receding gums can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Some common symptoms include:

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Visible tooth roots
  • Longer looking teeth
  • Bleeding gums
  • Swollen or red gums
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Pain or discomfort when eating or drinking hot or cold foods and beverages
  • Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite

RECEDING GUMS

Diagnosis 

To diagnose receding gums, a dentist or periodontist will perform a comprehensive dental exam, which may include:

  • Visual examination of the gums and teeth to look for signs of recession, such as exposed tooth roots, changes in the gumline, and gaps between the teeth
  • Probing of the gumline to check for pocket depth, which can indicate the presence of gum disease
  • X-rays to check for bone loss or other dental issues that may be contributing to gum recession
  • Taking a medical history and asking about symptoms and risk factors, such as smoking or poor oral hygiene practices

In some cases, the dentist may also refer the patient to a periodontist, who is a specialist in treating gum disease and other conditions that affect the gums and surrounding tissues.

Treatment

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The treatment for receding gums depends on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. Here are some common treatment options:

  • Scaling and root planing: This is a deep cleaning procedure that removes plaque and tartar from below the gumline and smooths out rough spots on the tooth root to help the gums reattach to the tooth.
  • Gum graft surgery: This procedure involves taking gum tissue from another part of the mouth, usually the roof of the mouth, and grafting it onto the affected area to cover exposed tooth roots.
  • Pinhole surgical technique: This is a minimally invasive procedure that involves making a small hole in the gum tissue and using special instruments to loosen and reposition the gum tissue to cover exposed tooth roots.
  • Antibiotics: If the gum recession is caused by gum disease, the dentist may prescribe antibiotics to help control the infection.
  • Changes in oral hygiene practices: This may include improving brushing and flossing habits or using a softer toothbrush.
  • Lifestyle changes: This may include quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and reducing stress.

Read more:

How to treat receding gums naturally at home:

While natural remedies may not be able to reverse receding gums, they may help to improve gum health and prevent further gum recession. Here are some natural ways to treat receding gums at home:

  1. Oil pulling: Swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil or sesame oil in the mouth for 10-15 minutes may help to reduce harmful bacteria in the mouth and improve gum health.
  2. Saltwater rinse: Rinsing the mouth with warm saltwater can help to soothe sore gums and reduce inflammation.
  3. Aloe vera: Applying aloe vera gel directly to the gums may help to reduce inflammation and promote healing.
  4. Green tea: Drinking green tea may help to reduce inflammation in the body and improve oral health.
  5. Vitamin C: Eating foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, berries, and leafy greens, can help to boost the immune system and promote gum health.
  6. Turmeric: Adding turmeric to your diet or using it as a paste on the gums may help to reduce inflammation and promote healing.
  7. Hydrogen peroxide rinse: Diluting hydrogen peroxide with water and using it as a mouth rinse may help to reduce bacteria in the mouth and improve gum health.

Can receding gums grow back? 

In some cases, receding gums can grow back. However, this depends on the severity of the gum recession and the underlying cause. If the recession is due to gum disease, treating the disease and practicing good oral hygiene can help stop the progression of the recession but may not result in complete regrowth of the gums. If the recession is due to brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush, using a softer brush and gentler brushing technique may allow the gums to recover. In some cases, a gum graft procedure may be necessary to restore the gum tissue. It is important to consult with a dentist or periodontist to determine the best course of treatment for receding gums.

Preventing receding gums

RECEDING GUMS

To slow or stop the progression of receding gums, you can follow these tips:

  • Practice good oral hygiene by flossing regularly, using fluoride toothpaste, and brushing teeth and gums gently twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Additionally, use an antiseptic or fluoride mouthwash to reduce bacteria and choose a toothbrush that allows access to all parts of the mouth. Replace toothbrushes every 2-4 months, and attend regular dental appointments.
  • Use the correct brushing technique, as recommended by the American Dental Association. This involves placing the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums and using small, tight strokes to brush the outer and inner surfaces and chewing surfaces of the teeth for 2 minutes.
  • Wear a mouth guard at night to prevent gum recession due to teeth grinding, which can create even pressure across the jaw and separate top and bottom teeth. Mouth guards can be purchased from most pharmacies or custom-made by a dentist for a better fit.
  • Replace ill-fitting partial dentures to prevent gum irritation and recession around healthy teeth. Partial dentures may become incompatible with the mouth over time due to shrinking bone and gum ridges, differences in jaw alignment, or general wear and tear.
  • Visit the dentist regularly for checkups to detect the early stages of gum recession and identify and replace any faulty fillings or ill-fitting partial dentures.

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