February 10, 2015
By: Dr. Andrea Abelman
Healthy, proportional gums are an essential component of an attractive smile, and patients need to have adequate gum tissue to protect the sensitive tooth roots that lie underneath the gums. So, when your gum tissue recedes due to advanced gum disease, it’s important to get effective treatment to correct the problem.
Gum recession occurs when the oral bacteria attack the soft tissue and the fibers that support it. As the tissue wears away, the roots of the teeth are exposed, creating an environment for tooth sensitivity and making the roots more susceptible to decay.
Many factors can contribute to gum disease, including genetics, harsh brushing technique, poor oral hygiene habits, orthodontics, and bruxism (teeth grinding), among other issues.
If you are aware that you have any of these risk factors, you should monitor your teeth regularly for signs of gum recession and consult a periodontist to determine if treatment is needed and what intervention would be most appropriate. Even patients who don’t necessarily face an increased risk of gum disease should still keep an eye on their gums so that they can act quickly to get treatment if the condition develops.
Fortunately, periodontists can address receding gums using a gum graft, a surgical procedure in which donor tissue can be placed at the site of recession. The donor tissue may come from elsewhere in the patient’s mouth, such as the soft palate or adjacent gum tissue, or from an external source.
The periodontist may perform gum grafting on a single tooth or multiple teeth, depending on the patient’s need.
Non-surgical treatments, such as deep cleanings, antibiotics and laser therapy may also help to reverse gum recession, so if the prospect of gum surgery makes you uneasy, ask if there are any alternative interventions that could be effective in your case.
If you fail to seek treatment for your receding gums, the active gum disease will continue to progress, and you may ultimately suffer from tooth and/or bone loss. Monitor your gums for signs of recession and consult with our periodontal specialists to discuss treatment if you notice that your gums seem to be shrinking.
Signs and Symptoms of Advanced Dental Disease Including Periodontal (Gum) Disease
Chronic disease anywhere in the body is insidious, thus advanced symptoms may only appear late after significant damage has occurred.
Warning signs of periodontal (gum) disease include:
- Redness, tenderness, pain, swollen gums
- Bleeding while brushing, flossing or biting into an apple
- Insufficient long term flossing over a lifetime
- Receding gums, frequently described ‘getting long in the tooth’
- Teeth moving or shifting
- Loose teeth
- Appliances no longer fit comfortably
- Previous history of tooth loss including parents
- History of smoking, diabetes or other metabolic diseases