Your gums are the framework of your smile. While these fleshy oral tissues don’t get many accolades, they hold the important job of helping to hold your teeth in place. Unfortunately, the gums can recede or shrink back for several different reasons, including the natural aging process, gum disease or aggressive brushing habits.
Receding Gums and Tooth Sensitivity
Receding gums occur when gum tissue wears away and parts of the tooth (roots) that were previously hidden underneath, are now exposed. Unfortunately, the roots of your teeth don’t have the same layer of protection as the rest of your tooth. Tooth surfaces that aren’t covered by enamel can be extraordinarily sensitive to temperatures and certain foods such as sweets. Brushing the area with a toothbrush can often cause jolts of pain, which can then cause a patient to subconsciously avoid brushing that area. If neglected, however, the area of receding gums can create an easy invitation for bacteria and calculus (tartar) buildup, which can lead to further damage within both the tooth and gum tissues.
Receding Gums and Gum Disease
If receding gums are left alone and are allowed to accumulate bacteria and plaque, this can lead to gum disease or an infection within the gums. These pockets collect more debris and bacteria, which in turn cause the pockets to widen and deepen. At this stage, more supporting bone beneath the tooth can be lost. If this condition is left untreated long enough, the tooth becomes unstable. Gum tissue alone is not strong enough to hold a tooth steady during speech and chewing food. Receding gums, therefore, can be a precursor to gum disease – a serious oral health condition that needs treatment sooner rather than later.
Treating Gum Recession
There are many treatments for receding gums when it is caused by or includes gum disease. Depending on the severity of the case, deep cleaning the affected area is usually recommended. During the deep cleaning (tooth scaling or root planning) tartar that has built up on the teeth and root surfaces below the gum line is removed. Antibiotics are often prescribed to get rid of any lingering bacteria. This helps to halt gum recession and bone loss.
Composite filling may also be applied to exposed dentin to diminish tooth sensitivity and protect the health of the tooth from plaque and aggressive tooth brushing. Gum grafting surgery is for severe cases when teeth are at risk for becoming mobile or loose. Healthy hygiene habits such as using a soft toothbrush, proper brushing as advised by a hygienist, flossing, and abstaining from things such as tobacco products are important.
If your receding gums are causing sensitivity or getting worse, please call Dr. Wayne Suway in Marietta.