Do your gums seem to be wearing away? Do your teeth look longer than they once did? Are they increasingly sensitive? Gum recession occurs for a variety of reasons, including brushing your teeth too hard, grinding your teeth, neglecting your oral health, failing to address unaligned teeth, and making unhealthy lifestyle choices. Not only are receding gums aesthetically unappealing, but also they can threaten your oral health by leaving your teeth unprotected. If you’ve noticed a change in your gums, you might wonder if you can correct the issue. Can you reverse gum recession?
What Happens When Gums Recede?
Your gums play two important roles when it comes to protecting your teeth. First, the “attached gingiva” connects your teeth to the jaw bone beneath, keeping your teeth securely anchored in your mouth. Second, the “unattached gingiva” protects the interiors of your cheeks and gums. The part of the gum tissue that surrounds each tooth is known as the “gingival margin,” and when it pulls away from your teeth or wears away, it creates gaps that leave the tooth roots exposed and vulnerable. In some instances, “pockets” form between the teeth and gum line, and bacteria builds up in these spaces. Gum recession increases your likelihood of developing tooth decay and potentially even losing your teeth.
Can You Reverse Gum Recession?
So can you reverse gum recession? Unfortunately, receding gums will not grow back on their own. Once your gums recede, that lost tissue is permanently gone. This is why it’s so important that you maintain a good oral health routine: brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing once a day, and visiting your dentist regularly. Focus on preventing gum recession, not reversing it. If you neglect your oral health, your gums may suffer permanent damage.
However, the news isn’t all bad.
Treatments are available.
If your gums recede significantly, your dentist or periodontist can discuss treatment options with you to correct the issue. Several treatment options are available for gum recession:
- Tooth Scaling/Root Planing: If you have mild gum recession, your dentist or hygienist may deep clean the area in a procedure known as tooth scaling or root planing. This will remove plaque and tartar on the exposed section of tooth and below the gum line. In addition, your dentist may carefully remove the gum line and smooth the exposed tooth root to discourage bacteria build-up.
- Open Flap Tooth Scaling/Root Planing: If calculus has formed deeply in pockets caused by gum recession, your dentist or periodontist may choose to fold back the affected gum tissue in an “open flap” procedure. Then, harmful bacteria is removed during a deep cleaning treatment. The jaw bone may be reshaped to prevent the formation of pockets in the future. Afterward, the gum tissue is secured in place, snug against the tooth to eliminate (or reduce the size of) pockets.
- Regeneration: Has your jaw bone been destroyed due to gum recession? In this case, you dentist or periodontist may wish to regenerate lost bone and gum tissue. First, your gum will be folded back so that bacteria can be cleaned away. Then a regenerative material (such as graft tissue or tissue-stimulating protein) will be applied to encourage your body to naturally regenerate bone and tissue in the affected area. Afterward, the gum tissue will be secured against the teeth.
- Gum Tissue Graft: During this surgical procedure, your dentist or periodontist will remove gum tissue from one area (such as the top of your mouth) and transfer it to cover the exposed tooth roots. The procedure also involves deep cleaning to remove bacteria and debris from your teeth before the new tissue is attached. There are several types of gum graft procedures available; your dentist or periodontist can determine the best type for your needs.
- Pinhole Surgery: A new, innovative option is called “pinhole surgery.” During this minimally invasive procedure, a small pinhole is created above the receding gum area. Then, a special instrument is inserted through the hole to elevate the gum and pull it down over the exposed root. Collagen strips are placed under the gum to keep it in place and promote healing. This is a quick procedure that produces immediate, dramatic results.
If you receive any of these treatments, remember that you haven’t permanently fixed the problem. Did your gums recede because you brush too hard, use a hard-bristled toothbrush, or neglect your oral health? Was the issue caused by crooked teeth or a smoking habit? Whatever the cause, you’ll need to fix the core issue to prevent your gums from receding again – which brings us to our second bit of good news . . .
You can prevent further damage.
While it’s frustrating that gum recession is not reversible, it is comforting to know that you have the ability to prevent further damage. So if your dentist mentions that your gums are receding, don’t waste time imagining a world in which it’s possible to turn back the clock. Instead, focus on how you can preserve your gums and keep them in good health. You don’t need to do anything special, simply follow these no-nonsense tips:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush. Don’t brush too hard.
- Floss your teeth once a day.
- Visit your dentist twice a year, or as otherwise recommended by your doctor and/or dentist.
- Address issues like misalignment and teeth grinding.
- Avoid smoking or using tobacco.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
Finally, pay attention to your smile. If you notice your gums are receding, take action before it’s too late.
If you live near Springfield, Missouri, and you’re looking for a new dentist, contact Wilkinson Dental. Your comfort and oral health are our top priorities. When you’re ready to set up an appointment, please give us a call at 417-708-0556 or schedule one online. We look forward to hearing from you!