If you look in the mirror and notice your teeth appear longer than they did before, it is probably due to something called gum recession. This condition does not only disturb someone’s smile, but also causes sensitivity of teeth thus talking to your dentist about this is necessary to explore treatment options.
What Is Gum Recession?
In normal healthy mouth, pink gum firmly covers the jawbone and the base of the teeth up until their necks, for variety of reasons, this gum can be pushed back in a slow and gradual process which will leave the fragile part of the tooth (root) exposed, this part is very thin and it is not covered by enamel in which makes it more prone to decay and tooth sensitivity.
What Causes Gum to Recede?
Having gum recession can be contributed to multiple factors:
- Age, most people aged 65 or more are more likely to develop gum recession.
- Physical pressureapplied while aggressively brushing your teeth can lead to gum recession, thus dentists advice their patients to use soft bristle toothbrush applied in circular motions rather than hard bristles toothbrush with horizontal movement.
- Malpositioned tooth, tooth that is not in the proper alignment with other teeth has a greater chance to have receded gum.
- Inadequate oral hygiene, plaque is a sticky layer formed of bacteria and food debris, normally plaque is removed with routine dental brushing, but if it is not properly removed it will harden and initiate gum inflammation, this inflammation with time will lead to gum recession exposing the root of the tooth.
- Certain personal habitscan be considered as risk factors, such as smoking, using dental pick and grinding of teeth, all of this contributes to the development of gum recession.
- Genetics,if either of your parents have receding gums, most likely you will inherent this from them.
Signs and Symptoms of Receding Gum:
As we all know now, that wearing of gums is a slow gradual process that may take up years to fully form and be noticed, thus a lot of patients are not aware that they have this condition unless it affects their life in some way.
Some patients will notice their gum is receding when it is causing them sensitivity with hot and cold drinks, this will actually put them in a higher risk of accumulating plaques thus developing decay and bad breath.
On the other hand, some patients will notice that their smile is affected; teeth will appear longer and gaps will form between them, some will worry that this may progress and cause them to lose their teeth thus become very conscious about it.
If you experience any of these symptoms or an advancement of already existing symptoms, we highly encourage you to go to your dentist, in order to check if there is any underlying cause and help preventing its progression.
What Are The Treatment Options Available for Gum Recessions?
First thing that should be implemented is regular follow up with your dentist, so they can monitor and prevent further progression of your case.
If you are experiencing a mild case of gum recession, your dentist will offer non-invasive procedures, these include the following options:
- Demonstrate clear instruction on how to properly brush your teeth without harming them.
- The usage of varnishes and desensitizing agents: These materials will reduce sensitivity of your tooth.
- Pink porcelain/composite: with the advancement in restorative material, pink fillings which are the exact same color of the gum will be placed to cover the exposed part of the tooth and to close the gaps where the gum have been pushed back.
- In case of malpostioned tooth, orthodontic treatment is mandatory, in which the tooth will be re-positioned with a slowly and steadily movement.
- Deep cleaning to the gums, if there was a severe form of gum inflammation, a deep thorough cleaning to remove all bacteria that are causing the recession is a must.
On the other hand, surgery is recommended in more severely receded gums, the dentist only option is to go for invasive procedures in order to repair the damaged gum and cover the exposed root; a graft will be taken from another site of the patient’s mouth, then tightly placed on the gum recession site and left for tissue to heal.
--- By Dr. Aisha I A Member of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh since 2019. She graduated from Tripoli University in 2016. She works as a general practitioner with special interest in Implantology.