By Rebecca Gatesman
It can be scary to have receding gums, but luckily there are several steps you can take at home to help prevent gum recession. The first step for addressing an oral health matter is to consult your dentist to find out whether your oral health requires further measures.
Causes of gum recessionGingival recession, or gum recession, is what happens when gum tissue recedes i.e. its position on the tooth is lowered, exposing the roots of the tooth. This can be caused by any number of factors, and your management of the condition is often dependent on the cause of the problem.
The following are some of the most common causes of gum recession:
- Overly aggressive brushing or flossing — It's great to be enthusiastic about oral care, but you should make sure that you're brushing, not scrubbing! Try using a toothbrush that is labeled "soft." Be gentle on your teeth, and remember that taking care of them isn't supposed to hurt.
- Genetics — Your gums' characteristics are determined by your genetics, just as the rest of your body is. If one or both of your parents have gum recession, you may be at higher risk for receding gums.
- Abnormal tooth positioning — If your teeth are not in alignment to one another, gum recession can be more likely to occur.
- Grinding your teeth, or bruxism— Do you often wake up with a headache? Does your spouse or partner complain that you grind your teeth? This habit can be the cause of many dental maladies, not just gum recession, so let your dentist know right away if you think you are grinding your teeth. Teeth grinding can be treated easily and painlessly with a bite splint amongst other options.
- Trauma to gum tissue — The gum tissue may recede when a traumatic injury has occurred to a tooth or teeth.
- Poor oral health habits — If you allow plaque to collect at gum margins for a period of time, gum recession may be one of the consequences.
Receding gums treatmentIf you are only mildly affected by receding gums, that's great! Your dentist may help you identify the cause and will instruct you in how to address it. This may include helping you change any habits that have contributed to the gum recession, for example improving your brushing regime by using a softer toothbrush such as Colgate® 360°® Sensitive Pro-Relief™ Toothbrush.
If you do need treatment, your dentist may work with a periodontist, a gum specialist, to decide on the best course of action. Your dentist will determine whether you would benefit from a special, deeper cleaning called scaling and root planing. This is frequently the solution when your gum recession is caused by gum disease.
Depending on the cause and extent of your gum recession, you may have to have surgical treatment. This procedure will be done by your periodontist and is called a gum graft. Your periodontist can tell you more about this procedure and what to expect.
Taking care of your oral health is very important. Your mouth is a great indicator of your general wellness, and serious oral problems can affect your whole body. Be gentle with your teeth, and go to the dentist if you have any persistent discomfort.