Gum recession refers to the process in which the amount of the gum tissues that surrounds that base of the tooth begins to wear away or pull back, exposing more of the tooth and its root. Receding gums often indicate the presence of gum disease. When gum recession occurs, small gaps begin to form between your teeth and gum line, which makes it easy for bacteria to grow. When left untreated, the bone structure and supporting tissue attached to the teeth may become severely compromised, and could eventually lead to tooth loss.
A common dental problem, most people fail to realized they have gum recession due to how slowly it occurs. Tooth sensitivity is generally one of the first signs of gum recession, and you may also start to notice that your teeth appear longer than usual.
Because of the serious long-term health affects, you do not want to ignore gum disease. If you suspect your gums have started to recede, you need to make an appointment to see Dr. McDowell, who has several treatment options that can repair your gums and prevent further damage.
What Causes Gum Recession?
A number of different factors can cause gum recession, including:
• Periodontal Disease: A bacterial infection that destroys gum tissue and the supporting bone structure that hold teeth in place, periodontal disease is the leading cause of gum recession.
• Genetics: Some individuals are just more susceptible to gum disease. Studies have shown that up to 30 percent of the population may have a predisposition towards gum disease regardless of how well the tend to their teeth.
• Over Brushing: Brushing your teeth incorrectly or with too much force can cause the enamel on your teeth to wear thin and for your gums to pull away.
• Poor Dental Care: Failure to brush or floss regularly gives plaque, a sticky bacteria that produces acids that eat away at your teeth’s enamel, to form into tartar to build up between your teeth, which causes gum recession.
• Hormonal Shift: Changes in a women’s hormone levels during her lifetime, such as during pregnancy, puberty, and menopause, can cause gum sensitivity and an increased risk of gum recession.
• Tobacco Use: Individuals who use tobacco products have a more difficult time removing plaque from their teeth, which can lead to gum recession.
• Teeth Grinding and Clenching: Grinding or clenching your teeth can place a great deal of force on your teeth, causing the gums to recede.
• Misaligned Bite or Crooked Teeth: When teeth fail to come together smoothly, too much force placed on the misaligned tooth can cause your gums to recede.
• Lip Piercing: Metal studs and rings used during lip piercings can rub against the gums, causing irritation that wears away gum tissue.
To deal with mild gum recession, Dr. McDowell may be able to perform a deep cleaning to the affected area. During the cleaning (also referred to as tooth scaling and root planning), the built up tartar and plaque is carefully removed and the exposed tooth root smoothed to make it more difficult for bacteria to infiltrate the area. In cases where gum recession cannot be treated with a cleaning, surgery may be needed to repair the damage.
If you find yourself suffering from gum recession, it’s important that you schedule an appointment to see Dr. McDowell so he can begin to assess your treatment options before your gum disease progresses to a more serious stage.