Our gum tissues (also known as the gingivae) are those pink tissues that usually cover the root of the teeth in our mouth. This dense tissue has a good supply of blood vessels beneath the surface and is firmly attached to the jaw bone. Having gum tissue support the root of our teeth is important, because our roots are the most fragile part of our tissue and are attached to several nerves.
When our gums recede due to gingivitis, the tissue exposes the roots of our teeth to bacteria and plaque, furthering our risk of other diseases.
Receding gums are preventable and, in most cases, reversible with early treatment by one of our dental specialists.
Receding Gums Causes
Two major factors can cause receding gums:
- Inflammation of the gum tissues
- Physical wear of the gums
Some people are also more prone due to hereditary factors, such as tooth position and gum thickness.
If a person’s gum tissue is thinner than average, then they are more susceptible to inflammation caused by plaque. Therefore, these people must be more delicate with their checkups and treatments.
Periodontal disease is a common cause of gum recession and is caused by plaque buildup. This allows bacteria to collect around the tooth and causes the loss of the supporting bone. The gums will recede due to the loss of connecting bone around the roots. Plaque buildup will thus create inflamed gums due to the immune system fighting against the bacteria. When plaque becomes out of control, it hardens into tartar and must be removed by a dentist.
Someone who has good oral health can also notice receding gums. In this case, although they are taking care at preventing plaque buildup, they may be brushing too vigorously and causing physical wear of the gums.
At early stages, receding gums and gingivitis can look normal. However, if left untreated for too long, receding gums can cause problems in your dental appearance, potential tooth loss, and sensitivity in the roots.
Receding Gums Treatment
For most mild cases of receding gums, treatment is (thankfully) not needed. Dentists will provide tips on prevention and set up a couple of follow-up appointments to ensure that the gum recession does not worsen.
For more severe conditions, however, there are a few treatment options for receding gums:
- Orthodontic treatment to move the position of teeth to help correct the gum margin surrounding the affected teeth
- Surgery to replace missing and receded tissue with tissue grafted from elsewhere in the mouth
- Desensitizing agents to reduce sensitivity around the root
- Composite restoration to cover the root surface
- Pink porcelain to create a more gum-like appearance in the mouth
- Gingival veneers made from acrylic or silicone
Although some of these are more cosmetic fixes for receding tissue, please note that gingivitis and periodontal disease are severe cases that must be taken care of first before becoming worse.
Most causes of gum recession are preventable. Avoid over brushing teeth or brushing with hard bristles, and continue brushing, flossing and using mouthwash every day to help prevent plaque buildup.
Need to check for gingivitis or receding gums? Schedule an appointment with our Elmwood Park dental office today. We are located near Franklin Park, Melrose Park, Oak Park, Bellwood, Maywood & River Forest IL.