Can You Fix Receding Gums
As gum recession occurs, the gum tissue surrounding the tooth pulls back to expose more of the tooth and its roots. Gaps between the tooth and gum form allowing infection causing bacteria to accumulate. If not treated, surrounding tissues and bone structures could be damaged and potentially result in loss of the tooth.
Whereas other tissues in the body are able to regenerate themselves, gum tissue cannot. Despite being a common dental condition, gum recession is a gradual process so many people are not aware they have it. Because of this, understanding the signs and symptoms of gum recession, can help patients determine what treatment option is appropriate for them.
Signs and Symptoms of Receding Gums
As gum recession progresses over time, patients may notice symptoms that include:
- Visibly Longer Teeth: As gums pull away from the teeth due to periodontal disease, the teeth will visibly appear longer than normal. This creates a “toothier” smile which could cause cosmetic concerns for the patient.
- Exposed Tooth Roots: If the gums recede enough to expose the tooth roots, extreme sensitivity and discomfort can result. Exposed roots are commonly associated with periodontal disease or could indicate overaggressive bushing with a hard-bristled toothbrush.
- Loose Teeth: Teeth may become loose as the gum tissue recedes from bacteria and periodontal disease. As the recession worsens, attachment structures are lost and gum pockets deepen.
Fixing Gum Recession
While gum tissue will not grow back on its own, there are steps that can be taken to prevent further recession and some procedures that can correct any cosmetic concerns.
- Slow the Process Down: Begin by scheduling an appointment with a dentist who will measure how far the gums have receded before recommending treatment. If bacteria have collected in the spaces created by the recession, the dentist will likely perform a scaling and root planing procedure. This deep cleaning procedure scrapes away tartar from the teeth and under the gumline using either an ultrasonic device or hand-held scraper. An antibacterial gel may also be applied under the gumline or the dentist may prescribe antibiotic mouthwash. Following the deep cleaning procedure, patients should ensure they maintain a thorough flossing and brushing routine to prevent future plaque from forming.
- Surgical Options: When gum recession is more advanced, the dentist may recommend surgery to remove bacteria deep under the gumline or to replace lost gum tissue. Surgical options include:
- Flap Surgery: The dentist makes a small incision in the gum tissue to lift it and remove any plaque that couldn’t be reached from the scaling and root planing. Once the bacteria are removed, the gum tissue is secured back in place.
- Bonding: Involves placing gum-colored resin over the roots of the affected teeth. This protects the sensitive roots and improves the appearance of gum recession.
- Gum Graft: The oral surgeon takes gum tissue from another area of the mouth before surgically attaching it around the receding areas. This can improve the cosmetics of receding gums while protecting the tooth and bone from further damage.