Receding gums and gum disease – what are they and why might I be affected?
Gum disease is a common problem that affects many people, though something that isn’t commonly talked about.
It’s the process in which the gum tissue surrounding the teeth becomes inflamed, pockets around the teeth are being formed and the bone starts wearing away. The gums around the teeth also start pulling back. This exposes more of the tooth – and can lead to the root being exposed. This causes the teeth to appear longer and to be more sensitive to cold.
If gum disease is left untreated, it can severely damage the supporting tissues of the teeth – leading to tooth loss.
Most people aren’t aware that they have experienced gum recession.
Initial signs are tooth sensitivity or noticing that a tooth looks longer than normal.
There are numerous causes of gum recession. Let’s take a look at them in more detail.
Gum disease is one of the key causes of gum recession, as mentioned earlier.
Gum disease is very common in the UK, affecting 3 out of every 4 adults over the age of 35.
It’s caused by the bacteria found in our mouths, that constantly form a sticky film on the teeth known as ‘plaque’. Ineffective brushing and flossing that fails to remove the plaque can lead to it hardening and forming ‘tartar’, which can only be removed by a deep clean from your dentist or hygienist.
The longer the plaque and tartar are on your teeth, the more damage they cause.
The bacteria cause inflammation of the gums known as ‘gingivitis’ – this makes the gums red, swollen and causes them to bleed easily. It’s a mild gum disease that can be reversed with effective brushing, flossing and regular dental visits.
When gingivitis is not treated it can advance to ‘periodontitis’ – causing bone loss and subsequent gum recession to occur.
Smoking (including vaping) is one of the most significant risk factors associated with the development of gum disease and recession. Smoking also makes the treatment for gum disease less effective.
Aggressive brushing technique can be doing more harm than good!
Slow and steady wins the race – and saves your teeth from gum recession too.
Using a hard toothbrush or doing horizontal “aggressive” brush movements can damage the gum tissue surrounding your teeth, and cause the enamel to wear away too.
However, brushing the teeth too gently, may not be sufficient to remove the plaque effectively and may lead to gum disease and recession.
Using a medium or soft brush or an electric toothbrush with the correct technique is the best way to brush effectively, yet not aggressively. If you’re unsure, ask your dentist or hygienist to show you the best method for you.
Unfortunately, there are other causes of gum recession too
There are also other causes of gum recession – these include thin gum biotype, which is prone to recession (this is genetically defined and cannot be altered), position of the teeth too far outside (may be genetic or due to orthodontic movement of the teeth) and presence of an aberrant frenum (a piece of gum, which connects the lip to the teeth and can be too deep).
So, what can be done about gum recession once it’s started?
A deep clean by your dentist is the first step for the early stages of gum disease and recession, enabling the bacterial plaque and tartar to be removed from the teeth.
If the recession is more extensive gum graft surgery can possibly repair the wounded area and prevent further recession from occurring.
Gingival grafting is used as a treatment for gum recession or as a preventive measure, so that recession does not occur
Gingival grafting is where tissue is taken from the roof of your mouth and is stitched over the area where the gum has receded or is likely to recede.
This can stop the process of gum recession and reduces the risk of tooth sensitivity . Gingival grafting can also even the gum line giving a more even appearance and improving your smile.
There are different types of gum graft and your dentist will discuss the best one for you. Although you might not have heard of it before, it isn’t a major dental procedure but can cause some pain and discomfort. Though it certainly saves on a lot more pain and discomfort than not dealing with the issue. Our Periodontist Chaido gets great results with gum grafting and a great example is shown in the video below.
Gum disease and gum recession are serious issues that should never be ignored. Please speak to your dentist as soon as you spot the initial signs of sensitivity and bleeding from the gums.
If you’re concerned about gum disease, gum recession or would like to find out more about gingival grafting, get in touch with us today at Ridgway Dental by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 02089462255.