Receding Gums: Causes and Treatment

Have you ever heard the term, “long in the tooth?”  For a long time that term was used to describe many elderly people because not only were teeth exposed in many of these people, but the roots of their teeth, as well.  As we age, because of bacteria in the mouth, receding gums, which expose the roots of our teeth, hence the term “long in the tooth”, occurs.

The most common cause of receding gums is gum disease.  When bacteria in the mouth bond together to form plaque, this can irritate and inflame the gums, and actually drive a wedge between the teeth and gums.  When this occurs, gum tissue is then eroded away, thus causing a recessed appearance.

Receding gums, unlike other conditions of gum disease, is fairly easy to diagnose as you can visibly see that something is wrong with your gums.  Another sign of receding gums is that the sensitivity of your teeth is increased because of the exposed roots.

Receding gums can be a warning sign for some very serious medical issues that might surprise some individuals.  Receding gums can  lead to periodontal disease which has been linked to such illnesses as heart disease and attack, stroke, diabetes, premature and underweight babies, and respiratory disease.

There are two main causes of receding gums; overly aggressive oral hygiene, and the build up of harmful bacteria.

One would think the more aggressively you brush your teeth, the healthier your teeth would become.  However, this is not the case.  Your gums are made of soft, sensitive tissue and this tissue can be damaged when you brush too harshly.  Always brush your teeth gently with a soft bristled toothbrush and brush for two-three minutes at a time.

The prevention of harmful bacteria in our mouths can be a bit more difficult than proper brushing.  Nevertheless, if we watch what types of food we eat, brush and floss our teeth twice a day, we can limit the amount of harmful bacteria in our mouths.

If you already suffer from receding gums, there is no product that can assist you in growing your gums  back.  Unfortunately, the costs of “fixing” receding gums is quite steep and can  involve scaling/root planing, gingival flap surgery, tissue graft and bone grafts.  An examination by your dentist will determine which procedure(s) would be beneficial in your specific case.