Receding gums can affect more than the appearance of your smile. By exposing sensitive parts of the tooth, they can also be painful or increase your risk of tooth decay and eventually tooth loss.
If your gums have started to pull back from your teeth, talk to a dentist as soon as possible. They can help to prevent the problem from getting worse and discuss treatments such as gum grafting to restore your gums.
What causes gums to recede?
To recommend suitable treatments, it's important to know why your gums have receded.
In most cases this is due to advanced gum disease (periodontitis), but gum tissue may also be damaged if you brush or floss your teeth and gums too hard or if plaque is left to build up on your teeth and harden into calculus (tartar).
You are more likely to have receding gums if you:
- have a dry mouth
- have a misaligned bite
- grind or clench your teeth (bruxism)
- are pregnant or going through other hormonal changes
- have a family history of gum problems
- have certain health conditions, including diabetes and HIV
Treatment options for receding gums
Treatment for receding gums first aims to stop further recession. While receding gums won't grow back on their own, your dentist may be able to restore lost gum tissue, depending on your situation.
Treatment options include:
Deep tissue cleaning
After cleaning and scaling your teeth to remove plaque, a dentist or hygienist may recommend deep cleaning or root planing to remove pockets of bacteria from inside your gums. This involves minor surgery to open the gums.
If your gums are free from infection, your dentist may recommend a gum grafting procedure. This involves transplanting soft tissue from another area of your mouth to your gums or using a synthetic substitute. Over time, this can encourage the gum tissue to grow back, but it may not be not suitable for all cases.
Medication such as topical antibiotics or antimicrobial mouthwash may sometimes be effective for removing bacteria that are causing gums to recede, or for treating an underlying health problem related to gum recession.
How to prevent receding gums
Receding gums are likely to be a recurring problem if you don't address the root causes by making changes to your oral care routine and other areas. You could lower your risk of further gum problems by:
- improving your brushing and flossing techniques
- quitting smoking
- visiting a dentist every 6 months for a check-up and hygiene treatments