Although some people are predisposed to receding gums due to heredity, prematurely receding gums may be prevented with proper oral hygiene — daily brushing, flossing and regular visits to the dentist. Many dentists will advise patients to focus on proper flossing, saying that it is even more important than brushing alone. For people that suffer receding gums due to overly exuberant brushing, consider switching to a softer bristled toothbrush and ask your dental hygienist for tips to improve your technique. Receding gums are typically a normal part of the aging process, many people may notice them much earlier than usual. Gums may recede due to genetics but they may also be caused by periodontal or gum disease. Sometimes receding gums can be identified at first glance, but they may be detected by feeling the top of the teeth at the gum line. If the tooth feels notched at the gum line, then the gums are likely receding, thus hastening the decay of healthy teeth.
Treatment should start with addressing the problem that caused the gum recession. If poor plaque control was a contributing factor, improved oral hygiene must be performed, combined with regular professional dental cleanings. If severe tartar was the cause, then a procedure called scaling and root planing may be necessary to clean the teeth and heal inflammation in the gums. If malocclusion or incorrect bite was a factor, a bite adjustment or bite splint may be recommended. Receding gums may also be caused by teeth that are misaligned, or by excessive plaque build-up at the gum line. Misaligned teeth can be addressed by an orthodontist through the application of braces or other treatments. Regular cleanings to remove plaque build up as well as treatments for possible periodontal disease should be undertaken where appropriate. New research is focused on using stem cells to culture the patients’ own gums to replace receded gums.
For those with severely receded gums, a graft from another part of the mouth may be the only option for treatment. For others with healthy teeth and gums, there are currently two methods for the treatment of receding gums. In one treatment, the dentist drills holes in the teeth and then fills them with a material that helps keep the gums from receding further. This is perhaps the most commonly used method by dentists in the United States. The second, and newer method for the treatment of receding gums has not yet been approved by the American Dental Association. Instead of drilling holes in the teeth, the smooth surface of the tooth is roughened with a dental drill. A light coating of adhesive or filling material is then applied to the tooth and allowed to dry slightly. After this step, the teeth are “cured” by exposing them to a special blue light at a high intensity. This is followed with another layer of adhesive material.
Treating receding gums is important, not only for comfort, but also to preserve the health of your teeth. When gums recede, the exposed portion of the tooth is much more sensitive, causing discomfort when consuming hot or cold foods and liquids. It can also lead to greater risk of tooth decay and other oral conditions such as a poor bite, sore jaw, periodontal disease and tooth loss.