A common periodontal (gum) disease is receding gums, which is a condition when your gums pull back from the tooth surface.
In severe cases of receding gums, the root surfaces can be visible. Though a serious consequence of poor dental hygiene, receding gums can be treated by a variety of options which depend on the tissue loss.
People affected by receding gums
Receding gums normally starts with a build-up of plaque and bacteria within the gums and teeth. Over time, layers of plaque destroy the gums and causes them to recede from the teeth.
Severe cases of receding gums cause distinct spaces between teeth and gums, which creates an ideal breeding ground for more plaque and bacteria to grow.
Statistical dental data shows adults 40 years or older are more prone to receding gums, making the disease often misconceived as a sign of aging. Data also shows that men are more likely to develop receding gums.
Hence the importance of maintaining good dental hygiene together with regular dental check-ups where it is possible for a dentist to detect periodontal diseases in the early stages and begin treatment early.
Causes of receding gums
Your gums may start to recede prematurely because of the following possible causes:
- plaque build-up (tartar)
- long term aggressive brushing of teeth
- HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)
- history of gum disease in the family
- female hormonal changes
- using a toothbrush with hard bristles
In certain cases, medication can cause a dry mouth, which increases the risk of having receding gums. Having less saliva makes the mouth tissues more vulnerable to bacterial infections.
What are the symptoms of receding gums?
Common symptoms of receding gums include:
- bleeding, normally after brushing or flossing teeth
- bad breath
- noticeable pain at gum lines
- red and swollen gums
- visible shrinking gums
- loose teeth
- exposed tooth roots (in severe cases)
How do you get checked for receding gums?
Your dentist will be the first to see and diagnose different forms of periodontal disease, receding gums being one of them, with a physical examination.
Upon diagnosing receding gums, your dentist will refer you to a periodontist (a dental specialist) who speciality is to prevent, diagnose and treat periodontal diseases. Periodontists are also specialists in treating oral inflammation and the placement of dental implants.
What is the normal treatment for receding gums?
Upon being diagnosed with receding gums, the periodontist will determine the best course of treatment to prevent further gum tissue loss and teeth.
If the gums are infected and inflamed, your periodontist may prescribe a course of antibiotics.
Other options to treat receding gums include:
- antibiotic gels applied topically
- antiseptic chips
- enzyme suppressants
- medicated mouthwash
For severe cases of receding gums, surgery may be an option. There are generally two types of surgery for receding gums, the first of which is flap surgery, and the second is grafting. A periodontist will explain and recommend the better of the two options suited for the individual.
Can we prevent our gums from receding?
The best prevention for receding gums is having routine dental check-ups and dental cleanings. Sometimes receding gums don’t cause pain or have other symptoms, but a dentist can identify the early signs of the disease.
Of course, good personal dental hygiene is also important. Regular flossing helps remove food bits stuck in between teeth, while brushing removes bacteria and plaque.
Tartar has to be removed by the dentist using a dental cleaner. The process is often referred to as “scaling”. Tartar can contribute to receding gums, so it is important to visit your dentist for bi-annual or at least annual dental cleanings.
In conclusion: Practice good dental hygiene to keep your teeth and gums in a good and healthy condition. Schedule routine dental check-ups to check for cavities, loose fillings, chipped or broken teeth, scaling and possible gum infections.
Remember – for a good set of teeth and gums, the earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better the outcome!
We hope this article on receding gums has been informative to our readers. Please note the contents of this article should not be taken as medical advice. Readers should seek proper advice from a qualified dentist on dental care requirements.
22nd September 2020 20:30
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