Receding Gum Treatments
Healthy gums are pink and form a consistent line around all the teeth. When gum recession occurs, the gums become red, inflamed, and begin to pull away from the teeth. As recession progresses, the tooth roots become exposed, gum tissue continues to wear away, and the teeth may become loose. Because gum recession progresses slowly over time, many patients do not realize they have the condition until it has advanced.
Fortunately, there are several treatment options available for combating receding gums that will be explored in this article.
Treating Receding Gums
Treatment options will depend on the patient and the extent of their gum recession. Treatments include:
- Tooth Scaling and Root Planing: In the earliest stages of gum recession, a dentist may recommend a deep cleaning procedure called tooth scaling and root planing. The procedure is done on an outpatient basis but could require more than one visit to complete. The procedure begins by the dentist first scaling the teeth by scraping plaque from the surfaces and in any pockets that develop between the gums and teeth. After scaling, the dentist performs the root planing where toot roots are smoothed with a scaling tool. This helps the gums reattach to the teeth and creates a smoother surface that prevents bacteria from sticking. Typically, anesthesia will be administered to numb the areas.
- Open Flap Scaling and Root Planing: More extensive than a traditional scaling and planing, this procedure involves the dentist or periodontist folding back the affected gum tissue, removing damaging bacteria from the pockets, and securing the gum tissue back in place over the root. This helps reduce the pocket size or eliminate them altogether.
- Regeneration: Should gum recession destroy the bone supporting the teeth, a regeneration procedure could be recommended. Like other procedures that reduce pocket depths, the regeneration procedure will start with the dentist folding back affected gum tissue to remove any bacteria underneath. Then, a regenerative material of graft tissue, tissue-stimulating protein, or membrane is applied to the area and gum tissue is secured over the tooth or root.
- Gum Graft: If more significant gum tissue has been lost from recession, a gum graft could be recommended to replace the lost tissue. There are three types of grafting procedures:
- Connective-tissue Grafts: Most commonly used to correct exposed roots, this graft involves cutting a piece of skin from the palate (roof of the mouth) and removing tissue which is then stitched to the gums around the tooth root.
- Free Gingival Grafts: Similar to connective-tissue grafts but does not cut a flap in the palate. Instead, tissue is taken directly from the palate and placed on the gum areas being treated. This technique is commonly used when people have naturally thin gums and need additional tissue to enlarge them.
- Pedicle Grafts: Rather than using tissue taken from the palate, pedicle grafts use gum tissue from near or around the tooth requiring repair. A pedicle, or flap, is partially cut away leaving one edge attached. Then, the gum is pulled down or over the root before being stitched in place. Only people with adequate gum tissue near the tooth are candidates for this procedure