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21 Churton Street,
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Receding gums

In receding gums, the gum tissue margin around the teeth pulls or wears away, exposing a large part tooth or tooth root. Gaps or pockets form between the gum line and teeth when the gum recedes, creating space for disease-causing bacteria to accumulate.

When left untreated, the bone structures and supporting tissues become severely damaged, resulting in tooth loss.

Gum recession is quite common, but most people aren’t aware they have gum recession because it often occurs gradually. The first sign is usually tooth sensitivity or a tooth looking longer than normal. Most times, you will feel a notch close to the gum line.

Gum recession requires immediate attention, so ensure you schedule an appointment with the dentist if you notice your gums are receding. Some treatments can repair the gums and prevent further damage.

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What causes receding gums?

Several factors can cause receding gums, including the following.

  • Periodontal disease

    Certain bacterial gum infections can destroy the gum tissues and supporting bones holding the teeth in place. Gum disease is usually the main cause of receding gums.

  • Genetics

    Some people are more likely to have gum disease. Studies show that about 30% of the population may be predisposed to gum disease, irrespective of the extent of care they give their teeth.

  • Aggressive tooth brushing

    If you brush your teeth aggressively or wrongly, your gums will recede, and your enamel can wear away.

  • Insufficient dental care

    Inadequate flossing and brushing and failing to rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash predispose you to plaque build-up, which results in calculus or tartar. Tartar is the hard substance that builds on and between the teeth, which only professional dental cleaning can remove. Tartar can cause gum recession.

  • Hormonal changes

    Female hormone level fluctuations during a woman’s lifetime, like in menopause, pregnancy and puberty, can cause increased gum sensitivity and elevate the risk of gum recession.

  • Tobacco products

    Tobacco users have an increased risk of sticky plaque on the teeth, which are difficult to remove and may lead to gum disease.

  • Clenching and grinding your teeth

    Grinding or clenching the teeth puts more pressure on the teeth, which may cause gum recession.

  • Misaligned bite or crooked teeth

    If your teeth do not come together evenly, it can place more force on the bone and gum, causing gum recession.

  • Body piercing of the tongue or lips

    Jewellery can rub against the gums, causing irritation to the point the gum tissues wear away.

  • Treatment for gum recession

    Treatment for mild gum recession may include a deep cleaning of the area by a dentist. During the deep cleaning, also known as root planing and tooth scaling, the dentist will carefully remove plaque and tartar on your teeth and smooth the exposed root area, making it more difficult for bacteria to enter the gums. You may also get antibiotics to remove the remaining harmful bacteria.

    If deep cleaning can’t treat your gum recession due to excess loss of bone or the pockets are too teeth, surgery may be necessary to repair the damage.

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What type of surgery can treat gum recession?

  • Open flap scaling and root planing

    In this procedure, the periodontist (gum doctor) or dentist will fold back the affected gum tissue, remove the harmful bacteria from the pockets and secure the gum tissue over the tooth root, which reduces or closes the pockets.

  • Regeneration

    If the gum recession has destroyed the bone supporting, a procedure for bone and tissue regeneration may be necessary. Like in pocket depth reduction, the dentist will fold back the gum tissue and remove the harmful bacteria.

    The dentist will use a regenerative material such as graft tissue, tissue-stimulating protein or a membrane to stimulate the natural regeneration of the tissue and bone in the area. After putting the regenerative material in place, the dentist will secure the gum tissue over the root of the teeth or tooth.

  • Soft tissue graft

    A soft tissue graft is the most common among the gum tissue graft procedures. During this procedure, the dentist will cut the skin flap at the roof of the mouth (palate), remove the tissue under the subepithelial connective tissue, and then stitch the flap to the gum tissues surrounding the exposed root. After removing the graft (connect tissue) from under the flap, the dentist will stitch the flap back.

In another type of graft, known as the free gingival graft, the dentist takes tissue directly from the roof of the mouth. In some cases, if enough gum tissues surround the affected teeth, the dentist takes graft gum from around the tooth instead of removing tissues from the palate. This procedure is known as a pedicle graft.

Your dentist will recommend the most suitable procedure depending on your needs.

How to prevent gum recession

The best prevention for gum recession is taking good care of your mouth. Floss and brush your teeth daily, and visit your periodontist or dentist at least two times a year or as recommended.

If your gums are receding, the dentist may recommend more frequent visits. Always brush your teeth using a soft-bristled toothbrush and ask your dentist how to brush correctly.

If teeth grinding or misaligned bite caused your gum recession, consult your dentist for a way to correct the problem.

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You can also prevent gum recession by:

  • Monitoring changes that may occur in the mouth
  • Eating a well-balanced and healthy diet
  • Quitting smoking if you smoke

Taking proper care of your teeth will keep your smile healthy.

Visit McKennell Dental Practice today at 21 Churton Street, London SW1V 2LY, for routine dental checks or a dental exam if you have receding gums. You can also call 020 7834 8802 to book an appointment with our experienced dentist.