Gum disease is one of the biggest undiscussed health issues in the United States, with a majority of Americans experiencing some form of it during their adult lives. While gum disease may seem like a minor issue particularly in its earlier manifestation, if left untreated it may lead to further complications or even tooth loss.
A key sign that something is amiss with your periodontal health is receding gums, which both look unsightly and may indicate a number of problems. So what should you do about receding gums? Let’s take a look and learn more about receding gums, what causes them, and how to fix them.
Causes of Receding Gums
So what causes receding gums? There are a number of possibilities, and following a thorough exam, your dentist can tell you more about your individual situation. However, here are some of the more common causes of receding gums:
- Periodontal diseases like gingivitis or periodontitis are a leading cause of gum disease. As bacteria multiple around or beneath the gum line, the infection grows, becoming gingivitis at first and then progressing to periodontitis if untreated. Receding gums are a sign that things are progressing, and that the situation may result in tooth loss if treatment isn’t implemented immediately.
- Overly-forceful brushing or other incorrect tooth care can lead to receding gums, as the irritation pushes gums away from the teeth they protect. A key way to avoid this is to use the right toothbrush and the right technique for brushing: a smooth and gentle circular motion over the surfaces of the teeth and gums.
- Teeth grinding may lead to a number of oral health woes, including damage to the tooth and receding gums. If you’re a tooth grinder, let your dentist know as soon as possible so that they can help you find the right treatment strategy.
- Tobacco use is another leading cause of receding gums. Nothing about tobacco is good for your oral health, and the best solution is to cease using it immediately.
Preventing Receding Gums
So what can you do to prevent or avoid receding gums? As with so many oral health questions, the key steps are an effective brushing and flossing routine and a healthy diet that minimizes starches and sugars. These are the most important steps you can take for your oral health in general, including preventing receding gums. Regular visits to the dentist for exams and cleanings are a must as well, as is avoiding or at least minimizing tobacco and alcohol use. By adopting these healthy lifestyle choices, you’ll minimize your chances of receding gums becoming an issue for you.
Treating Receding Gums
Let’s address the big question: should the worst happen, what are the options for treating receding gums? The answer depends on the severity of the condition and how long it’s gone untreated. The first step is a thorough exam and cleaning. The cleaning may be spread out over several office visits, in order to allow the gums to heal in between. If the situation is more advanced or fails to respond to the first cleaning, a more detailed and in-depth cleaning treatment may be necessary. Referred to as scaling and deplaning, this involves folding the gums back away from the teeth, removing plaque and tartar below the gum line, and then using special tools to reattach the gums to their teeth.
For especially advanced cases of receding gums, surgery may be necessary. This may involve a graft or series of grafts to replace lost bone or gum tissue, the use of a regenerative material to regrow the tissue, or some combination thereof. If the damage is too severe for that, your dentist or endodontist may recommend any of a variety of prosthetics.
Receding gums are nothing to be afraid of, but they are something you want to avoid. By following good oral health practices, making regular visits to your dentist for exams and cleanings, and following their advice for treatment, you can help prevent receding gums and deal with them effectively should they occur.