Roughly 50 percent of adults experience gum recession after age 30. Characterized by tooth sensitivity and a higher risk for cavities, receding gums are spurred by periodontal disease or certain lifestyle factors. Learn about gum recession and its common causes.
What Is Gum Recession?
Gum recession occurs when the existing tissue starts to erode or pull away from the teeth. This change exposes the roots and forms pockets, where bacteria gather and a toothbrush can’t always reach. Long term, these factors can also contribute to tooth and jawbone loss.
Typically, gum recession is a byproduct of gum disease. While it can occur at any age, the likelihood increases after age 65 and if you have untreated periodontal disease, braces, chew tobacco, brush aggressively or have mouth or tongue piercings.
Beyond seeing or feeling exposed roots in your mouth, common symptoms include:
- Increased sensitivity to hot and cold, sweet foods and after you brush or floss
- Pain around the gumline
- Pain during routine dental cleanings
- Loose teeth
- Red or bleeding gums
Causes of Gum Recession
Gum recession may occur in response to:
- Periodontal Disease: This gum infection starts as gingivitis before progressing to periodontitis. Bacteria gather on your teeth as plaque before it hardens into tartar, progresses below the gumline and causes pockets to form.
- Genetics: About one-third of people have a higher risk for gum disease than the rest of the population. Those with a higher frenal attachment in the mouth are more likely to develop gum recession due to the stress this muscle places on the gum tissue.
- How You Brush: If you apply significant pressure or brush until your gums bleed, you gradually wear away the gum tissue and enamel, contributing to recession over time.
- Negligent Dental Care: Those who don’t brush with a fluoride-based toothpaste twice a day and floss at least once have higher risks for tartar and gum recession.
- Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations in response to puberty, pregnancy, menstruation cycles and menopause can increase risks for gum disease and gum recession.
- Tobacco Use: Individuals who chew or smoke tobacco are more likely to develop plaque and experience gum recession with time.
- Grinding and Clenching: The extra force and strain of this habit can gradually wear down the enamel on your teeth and gum tissue.
- Trauma: Sudden or gradual trauma to the mouth area can affect tooth positioning. Crooked, poorly aligned or missing teeth can place greater stress on certain parts of the mouth, contributing to worn-away enamel, loose teeth and gum recession.
- Braces and Aligners: While these treatments help even out your smile, they can contribute to inflammation and irritate gum tissue, potentially resulting in recession.
- Lip and Mouth Piercings: These additions can invite inflammation, increase bacteria and contribute to both gum tissue and enamel wear.
Treatments for Gum Recession
Based on the degree and pace of recession, your dentist may recommend:
- Scaling and Planing: This procedure is geared toward mild to moderate recession and is essentially a deeper clean to remove plaque and tartar deposits, including those below the gumline. Roots and gums are smoothed out to stop bacteria accumulation.
- Antibiotics: These may be administered alone or in conjunction with scaling and root planing to control periodontal disease and the progression of bacteria.
- Bonding: Tooth-colored resin is applied to camouflage and protect exposed roots.
- Correcting Alignment: Your dentist may recommend braces, clear aligners, removing teeth or adding crown or implant to correct alignment issues encouraging recession.
- Gum Grafting: This surgical procedure replaces worn-away gum tissue with existing tissue from your mouth, another human or a synthesized source. In more severe cases, a jawbone graft for regeneration may be done first to prevent further bone and tooth loss.
To address gum recession, schedule an appointment at Smile Dental Center today.