Dangers of Receding Gums and What You Can Do About It

When gum tissue surrounding the teeth pulls back or wears away, dentists refer to this condition as gum recession. To prevent this condition from worsening, it’s highly advisable to schedule an appointment with Montreal periodontists when you first notice any symptoms, as it can otherwise have a highly negative impact upon your health.

When you have receding gums, “pockets,” or gaps, form between the gum line and teeth, making it easy for bacteria to grow and multiply. Bacterial growth in your gum pockets can destroy the bone structure and supporting tissue in your teeth, resulting in tooth loss.

However, apart from being a potential aesthetic problem, this can also be a serious risk to your overall health. Studies have shown that when patients have poor oral health, it can also lead to a host of health problems including dementia, heart disease and diabetes.

Why Does Gum Recession Occur?

There are several factors that can lead to receding gums, including:

  • Gum disease. The number #1 cause of gum recession, bacterial gum infections can damage the gum tissue and bone structure which keep your teeth in place.
  • Some people are more predisposed to gum disease than others, no matter how well they take good care of their teeth.
  • Inadequate dental care. People who don’t floss regularly or brush their teeth properly are at a higher risk of gum recession. It’s also important to see your dentist every 6 months for professional dental cleaning to remove plaque and tartar.
  • Hormonal changes. This is more applicable to women, as female hormone levels can fluctuate in various stages in a woman’s life, such as during puberty, pregnancy and menopause.
  • The use of tobacco products trigger the buildup of sticky plaque in the mouth, which is very hard to remove.
  • Teeth clenching and grinding. These habits can put a lot of force on the teeth, triggering the gums to recede.
  • Crooked teeth. Misalignment in the teeth can put more pressure on the bone structure and gum tissue, causing it to recede.

Gum Recession Treatment

If the gum recession is still at a mild stage, your dentist can treat it using a procedure called tooth scaling and root planing (deep cleaning). The tartar and plaque that have built up below the gum line are removed, and the exposed root is polished to prevent bacteria from attaching to it. Your dentist may also prescribe antibiotics to kill any remaining bacteria.

However, for cases of severe gum recession, your dentist may recommend surgery. This mainly consists of the following potential procedures:

  • Open flap scaling and root planing: Your periodontist folds back the gum tissue, takes out the bacteria from the gum pockets, and then puts the gum tissue over the tooth root to eliminate pockets.
  • Bone and gum tissue regeneration: If the bone structure that supports the tooth/teeth has been destroyed, your periodontist may recommend bone and gum tissue regeneration. To do this, your dentist will fold back the gum tissue, take out the bacteria and then apply a regenerative material (tissue graft or membrane) to encourage your body to regenerate gum and bone tissue in the affected area. The gum tissue is then secured in place over the tooth root.
  • Soft tissue graft: There are various procedures for a gum tissue graft, including a connective tissue graft. A flap of skin is taken from the roof of your palate, and the subepithelial connective tissue (under the flap), is removed and attached to the gum tissue around the exposed root.

Preventing Gum Disease

While gum disease can have a very negative impact, it is equally fairly easy to prevent with good oral hygiene. Brush and floss regularly, and keep your bi-annual appointments for a thorough cleaning of your mouth. If you notice that you have receding gums, see your dentist as soon as possible, so that it can be treated before it gets any worse.

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