What Gum Recession Means
You’ve probably heard about gum disease, but you may be confused if your only symptom is gum recession. You may be thinking, “my gums look healthy and pink—they aren’t sore or swollen—so why do I have gum recession? Do I really have gum disease?”
Are you starting to look “long in the tooth”? If you’ve noticed your teeth starting to look longer or that your gums look like they are pulling away from the teeth, you probably are suffering from a condition called gum recession. You don’t have to have all the symptoms of gum disease to experience gum recession, as the infection can manifest differently for everyone.
If you are worried about your gums receding, call Desert Family Dental and we’ll advise you of the best course of treatment. Call 480-838-4185 to make an appointment.
In most cases, receding gums are a sign you are suffering from gum disease. When bacteria invade the gum tissue below the gum line, they excrete acids that damage living tissues. Over time, gum tissue dies and it appears that the gums are pulling back from the teeth. Gum disease is so common in older populations that this is where the expression “long in the tooth” (meaning old) comes from.
Gum disease is a serious condition. Untreated, it can lead to tooth loss and it is not curable. It is treatable, however. Periodontal treatments can help remove bacteria and damaged tissues, so healthy gum tissue can thrive and further recession can be stopped. Other symptoms of gum disease you may be experiencing include bleeding gum tissue, especially when you floss or brush your teeth, bad breath, red gums, swollen gums, or pain in the roots of your teeth. As gum disease progresses, it can destabilize the teeth and make them feel looser than before. Ultimately, you may not have enough gingival tissue to support the teeth, so it’s important to treat your symptoms with professional care.
There are several treatments that can help you restore the health of your gums. If you are diagnosed with gum disease, you will need a deep cleaning, also called scaling and root planing. This treatment removes tartar and bacteria from the periodontal pockets surrounding the roots of the tooth and smooths the surface of the roots, to make it harder for bacteria to stay there. After your treatment, you may be given antibiotics, medication, and/or a special rinse to help prevent bacteria from coming back.
More severe cases of gum recession may require surgical treatments to restore gum tissue. Gum grafts take soft tissue from another part of the mouth and use it to support the teeth, as the receded gum tissue once did. This procedure is only a short, day surgery and recovery time is usually about a week or two.
When It’s Not Gum Disease
Gum recession doesn’t always indicate gum disease, however. In rarer cases, a patient may develop gum recession as a result of overzealous tooth brushing. If you have used a medium or hard bristled toothbrush for many years, you may have inadvertently damaged the gum tissue at the gum line, and caused the gums to recede. This is why it’s always recommended that you only use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean your teeth.
Regardless of the cause, gum recession is always a problem. When the roots of a tooth are exposed, they become more vulnerable to damage from mouth bacteria. Tooth roots do not have enamel, as the crowns do. Without enamel, the roots can develop cavities and dark stains more quickly than the portion of tooth above the gums. Cavities below the gums are much harder to treat, and may ever require gum surgery to restore the teeth.
If you have receding gums, you may need periodontal treatments for gum disease. Call Desert Family Dental to make an appointment with Dr. Scott Lee. We will examine your teeth and gums and determine the best course of action to restore your oral health. Call 480-838-4185 to make an appointment.