Medical examination

When your gums recede or pull away from your teeth, it is called gum recession. Gum recession can happen to people of all ages. Sometimes it happens even if a person takes good care of his or her teeth. Gum recession can cause problems for your dental health. If you have gum recession, your dentist can help you understand the causes and recommend a treatment.

When teeth are healthy, gum tissue fits around each tooth like a cuff. In a tooth with gum recession, the gum tissue has pulled away from the tooth. This can leave the tooth root exposed. Since the root surface does not have a hard enamel covering like the crown of the tooth, the root may become sensitive to hot and cold. Also, the exposed tooth root is more at risk for decay.

Gum recession can be difficult to self-diagnose in its earliest stages because the changes often occur asymptomatically and gradually. Regular dental check ups will help to prevent gum recession and assess risk factors.

Some of the symptoms you may experience if you have gum recession are:

  • Sensitive teeth-When the gums recede enough to expose the cementum protecting the tooth root, the dentin tubules beneath will become more susceptible to external stimuli.
  • Visible roots–This is one of the main characteristics of a more severe case of gum recession.

  • Longer-looking teeth–Individuals experiencing gingival recession often have a “toothy” smile. The length of the teeth is perfectly normal, but the gum tissue has been lost, making the teeth appear longer.

  • Halitosis, inflammation and bleeding–These symptoms are characteristic of gingivitis or periodontal disease. A bacterial infection causes the gums to recede from the teeth and may cause tooth loss if not treated promptly.

Gum recession can be caused by:

  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Brushing your teeth too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush
  • Trauma to gum tissues, such as a sports injury
  • Partial dentures that don’t fit right
  • Genetics–some people are born with gums that are thin or weak
  • Prominent tooth roots or attachment muscles that can push gums out of place
  • Smoking and using any kind of tobacco

Treatment for gum recession depends on the cause. If the gums become unattached from the tooth, it is important to treat gum recession. Otherwise, it may get worse. If gum recession is caused by brushing too hard, your dentist can show you a better way to clean your teeth. This will not repair the existing damage, but it will prevent new damage to the gums.

If gum recession is caused by periodontal disease the first step is usually a treatment called scaling and root planing. The dentist removes plaque and tartar from the tooth and root surfaces. This treatment helps gum tissues heal and reattach to the tooth. For many patients, this treatment plus excellent oral care at home and regular dental visits can help control periodontal disease and gum attachment loss.

If gum recession is caused by partial dentures that don’t fit right, your dentist can adjust or remake them for you. If recession is advanced, a gum graft may be needed.

If you think you may be experiencing gum recession, call our office today at (562) 434-6414 to schedule an appointment.