Definition of Gum Recession:

The process through which the gum tissue surrounding the tooth wears away – or pulls back – thereby exposing the tooth’s root.  Gum recession is a common dental problem, and due to its gradual progression, one patients aren’t often aware they have.

Causes of Recession:

  • Periodontal disease – With insufficient dental care, bacteria from sugars and acids build up on teeth and cause gum inflammation. This inflammation will eventually eat away at the bone surrounding the teeth, causing loss of both bone and tissue support.
  • Genetics – Some people may be more susceptible to gum disease.  Specifically, some people have thin or weak connective tissue and/or bone that will easily be worn away.
  • Aggressive tooth brushing – If you brush your teeth too hard or with poor technique, it can cause the gums to recede. We prefer extra-soft bristled brushes or an electric toothbrush and sensitivity toothpaste.
  • Grinding and clenching your teeth – These actions put too much force on the teeth, contributing to bone loss and gum recession.
  • Crooked teeth or a misaligned bite – When teeth do not come together evenly, too much force can be placed on the specific areas of the teeth and bone, allowing for bone loss and gum recession.
  • Orthodontic Treatment – If teeth are moved too fast, the bone does not have sufficient time to recycle and can be lost.  Lack of sufficient bone leads to deficient tissue and gum recession.

Risks of Recession:

  • Exposure of the tooth root to the sugars, acids, and abrasion of normal diet and function
  • Increased sensitivity to temperature and sweets due to the exposure of the delicate root, which provides access to the nerve
  • Notching or loss of the root surface over time –  when left untreated, this can lead to nerve exposure or tooth fracture

Treatment Options:

  • Unfortunately, once we experience recession or lose connective tissue, we cannot get it back naturally.  Our best treatment for recession is prevention with ideal home care.  Ideal home care includes:
  • Use of a Sonicare toothbrush at the most gentle setting with Sensitivity/Non-Abrasive toothpaste
  • Daily flossing
  • Antiseptic mouth rinse at least once a day

If the recession is being caused by a misaligned bite, our recommendation would be orthodontic treatment to eliminate the bite interference.  If orthodontics is not an option, we will recommend a night guard to protect the overloaded teeth during night-time grinding or clenching.

If the recession becomes so significant that we completely run out of protective, connective tissue, the now unprotected bone that supports the tooth is at high risk of rapid tissue and bone loss.  At this point, we recommend seeing the periodontist (tissue-specialist) to have a connective tissue graft completed to prevent future tooth loss.  This involves transplanting a flap of skin and subepithelial connective tissue from the roof of your mouth (palate) and then stitching that tissue around the exposed root.