Excel Dental Blog

Exposed: The Truth About Receding Gums

Exposed: The Truth About Receding Gums

Healthy gums play an important role in your overall health. In fact, many leading experts agree there is a strong link between gum inflammation and chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and respiratory illness. Gingival recession—also known as “receding gums”— is one condition that can lead to inflammation in the form of irritated, lost gum tissue and tooth root exposure. Not only that, but receding gums play a role in the aesthetic of your smile. A receding gum line creates greater exposure of each tooth, which creates an elongated look. This can lead to feelings of self-consciousness for many people.

Gum recession can be largely asymptomatic in its earliest stages, making it difficult to self-diagnose. That’s why it’s paramount to understand the symptoms, causes and prevention tips for keeping your gums in tip-top shape.

Symptoms

You may have gingival recession if you notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Sensitive teeth (especially to hot or cold temperatures)
  • Visible roots
  • Longer-looking teeth
  • Bad breath caused by plaque buildup and/or decay on the exposed area of the tooth
  • Red, inflamed gum tissue around your teeth
  • Bleeding gums

Causes

Healthy gums fit around each of your teeth like a cuff. When gum tissue starts to recede, however, it pulls away from the tooth and can eventually leave the root exposed. Unlike the crowns of your teeth, the roots don’t have that same protective enamel coating. The root is therefore more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures and at a higher risk for decay. According to the American Dental Association, the most common causes of receding gums include:

  • Clenching or grinding your teeth
  • Brushing your teeth too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Smoking and/or using any type of tobacco
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Genetics—some people are born with gums that are more thin or weak than normal

Treatment & Prevention

When it comes to gingival recession, treatment and future prevention are key for ensuring overall health.

If you are diagnosed with gingival recession by your local dentist, the treatment you’ll receive will depend on the degree of progression. Your dentists at Excel Dental, Drs. Davis and Matthews, will first determine the cause of the problem that triggered your recession and recommend a treatment plan from there.

First and foremost: Regular dental check-ups with your local Ozark, MO dentist are imperative for helping to prevent gum recession and assess risk factors. Your dentist may then recommend a treatment plan that includes all or some of the following:

  • Recommendation for a softer toothbrush and gentler brushing technique. This won’t repair your existing damage, but it will prevent new damage to the gums.
  • Wearing a clear plastic retainer at night to circumvent jaw clenching and grinding.
  • A professional dental cleaning to rid debris and bacteria within the gum pockets.
  • Scaling and root planing, or a “deeper cleaning,” if it’s determined your gum recession is caused by periodontal disease. Scaling and root planing removes bacteria, plaque within the periodontal pocket and the biofilm and calculus attached to the tooth and root surface. This treatment is especially helpful in allowing gum tissues to heal and reattach to the tooth.

For more advanced gingival recession, gum tissue regeneration and gum grafting may be used to restore natural symmetry to the gums. A graft is when a thin piece of gum tissue is taken from another place in your mouth (or an artifical graft is used) and attached where the gum tissue has receded. The exposed tooth root is then covered once the graft begins to heal. Not only can a graft repair a receding gum line, but it can also improve the aesthetics of your smile. 

FAQs

Q. Do receding gums grow back on their own?

  1. This is a common myth. There is no way for your gums to grow back on their own; however, with professional treatment and by implementing proper preventative measures, you can stop the progression of your receding gum line.

Q. Can natural treatments, such as essential oils, fix my receding gums?

  1. “Old wives tales” have circulated in recent years which claim that receding gums can be treated by applying natural oils like lemon, clove, coconut and sesame. There is currently no scientific-based evidence to substantiate these claims. At most, these natural treatments may help alleviate the discomfort which results from gingival recession; however, from a medical standpoint, oils alone are not advised as an effective treatment plan.

Q. Only older adults experience receding gums, right?

  1. While gum recession is most common in adults over 40, it can begin as early as the teen years. The most common cause of gum recession in children and teens is over-aggressive brushing. Your local Springfield, MO dentist can help educate your child on proper brushing techniques that will preserve his or her smile for years to come.

Get Your Gums Back

Receding gums are more than just an aesthetic nuisance. If you or a family member is experiencing the symptoms of gingival recession, get your gums back by making an appointment with Dr. Tracy Davis or Dr. Nick Matthews at Excel Dental. We’ll work to diagnose the cause of your receding gums and tailor a treatment plan for your smile. Find us in Ozark, Missouri—a short 10 minute drive from Springfield.

Related Reading

Searching for more advice on this topic? Make sure to check out these related posts from our blog: