Receding gums aren’t pretty. They disrupt the gum line, expose the tooth root, and cause the appearance of tooth elongation. But gum recession is more than just unattractive—it can also lead to severe oral health complications. Unfortunately, once gums have receded, they will not grow back on their own. The good news is that there are treatments available that can help cover the exposed tooth root, restore the gum line, enhance your smile, and protect your oral health. Here’s what you need to know.
Problems with receding gums
Our gums are important for keeping our teeth healthy. Unlike the crown of the tooth, the root is not covered with protective enamel. Instead, healthy gums fit snugly over the root to help hold the tooth in place and protect it from harmful bacteria. Damaged or unhealthy gums pull back away from the teeth, potentially leading to a number of dental complications and aesthetic issues. If left untreated, receding gums can cause:
- Exposed tooth roots
- Unappealing appearance of tooth elongation
- Gaps between teeth and gums
- Buildup of bacteria in hard-to-clean gaps
- Increased risk of tooth decay
- Increased sensitivity to heat and cold
- Increased risk of gum disease
- Loose teeth
- Tooth loss
Although treatment for receding gums is available, prevention is the best way to avoid the above dental issues. Consistent proper oral hygiene and regular visits to your dentist will go a long way toward keeping your gums healthy. But insufficient oral hygiene is not always the cause of receding gums.
What causes receding gums?
There are a number of different factors that can lead to gum recession. Some are in our control, such as smoking, and others are out of our control, such as genetics. Whether your gums are receding and you want to stop the process, or your gums have not yet receded and you want to make sure they don’t, this list of potential causes is a great place to start thinking about which habits you can eliminate to better protect your gums.
- Gum disease
- Aggressive brushing
- Hard bristled toothbrush
- Insufficient oral hygiene
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Naturally thin gum tissue (genetics)
- Lip or tongue piercings
- Ill-fitting partial dentures
- Hormone fluctuations
- Crooked teeth
- Grinding and clenching teeth
Your dentist or periodontist will be able to help you understand the cause of your receding gums so you can treat existing conditions and make choices that support your oral health. Regardless of the specific cause of your receding gums, treatment is important for preventing further dental issues and complications.
Treatment for receding gums
The best treatment for receding gums will depend on the severity of the gum recession. If your gums are receding, your dentist or periodontist may recommend one of the following treatments:
Also known as scaling and root planing, this technique involves pulling back the gums to clean the surface of the tooth below the gums (scaling) and smoothing the tooth to discourage bacteria buildup (root planing). This treatment is best for mild cases, as it is mainly to prevent further gum recession.
Soft tissue grafting
For more severe cases of gum recession, a soft tissue grafting procedure may be needed to harvest gum tissue from another area (often the roof of the mouth) in order to cover the exposed tooth root where the gums have receded.
Pat Allen Tunneling Technique
This minimally invasive surgical grafting technique involves the creation of a small tunnel around the tooth with gum recession. Human donor tissue material is inserted into the tunnel, which is then closed with a special suturing technique.
Chao Surgical Pinhole Technique
Another minimally invasive procedure, the Chao pinhole technique is considered the best treatment for receding gums, as it involves zero incision, zero grafting, and zero suturing. The periodontist creates a pinhole in the gum and uses specialized instruments to loosen the gum away from the tooth, gently repositioning it to restore the gum line and cover the exposed tooth root. The improvement is instant, and the recovery time is minimal.
Treatment for receding gums at San Diego Periodontal and Implant Dentistry
Whether you’re concerned about the unappealing aesthetics of receding gums or not, the associated health complications should be avoided. Your oral health does not just affect your teeth and your mouth—it affects your whole body. Gum disease has been linked to an increased risk of serious health conditions including stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. If your gums are receding, let us help. For more information on the Chao Pinhole Technique or other treatments for receding gums, give us a call at (619) 543-0905 today.