Gum recession is a common, often undiagnosed oral health problem. The simple fact is that most dentists do not view gum recession as a problem until it is too late. Why? Well why don’t you ask your dentist. But first let's educate ourselves about recession. Knowledge is power, so read on carefully!
Common causes for gum recession are gum disease (periodontal disease), aggressive brushing, muscle (frenum) pull, and trauma. Gum recession is exacerbated by naturally thin bone and gums around the teeth.
A very important fact to understand that gum recession follows bone recession. That is, the bone supporting your teeth is covered by the gums and the only way your gums can receded is if the bone underlying the gums is destroyed. The less bone you have supporting your teeth the looser your teeth will become. This can eventually lead to tooth loss.
Common problems associated with gum loss include the following:
Tooth sensitivity: Receded gums expose the sensitive roots. Many patients complain of pain to hot or cold food and drink. Some people are also sensitive to acidic or sweet foods.
Root wear: The exposed roots are softer than enamel. Constant brushing can cause root ditching or wear. As these ditched areas get deep enough the nerve in the tooth can become compromised and die. This may result ion the need for the dreaded Root Canal Treatment.
Root decay: Unlike Enamel, the roots of the teeth are softer and more prone to tooth decay. In fact, in the older population root decay is the most common type of decay problem.
Esthetic issues: As the gums recede, the teeth appear to be longer. This is where the expression “long in the tooth” comes from. In some people with wide smiles the long looking teeth is a major cosmetic concern.
Loss of the protective band of gum: Around each tooth there exists a thick, fibrous band of gum called the “attached gingiva”. The purpose of this gum is to protect the underlying bone and act as a seal (like a gasket) against bacteria from infecting the underlying bone. It is common to loose this protective band of gum around the lower from teeth and the middle teeth, the premolars.
Further recession: generally, unless action is taken to stop gum recession, the gums will continue to recede worsening the above mentioned problems.
How is gum recession treated?
Gum recession is treated by grafting another piece of gum where recession has occurred. There are several grafting options both in source of gum tissue and technique. What is best for you depends on multiple factors. The best choice for you can be determined by an experienced dentist. Gum grafting is one of the most difficult and technique sensitive dental procedures. Make sure that the Periodontist (gum surgery specialist) you choose is experienced and versed in the latest gum grafting techniques. As the dentist how may surgeries they have performed and what is their success rate. Some may even have before and after pictures of the teeth they treated.