Need To Know: Find Out About Gum Recession

A toothy smile is all well and good—as long as it's always been that way. If you've noticed that your teeth appear longer lately, though, you may be experiencing gingival recession. Also called gum recession, this condition is when the margin of gum tissue around your teeth either pulls back or wears away. This not only results in increased sensitivity, but it can also lead to eventual tooth loss.

Causes of Gum Recession

Gingival recession can be the result of anatomy or of ineffective oral hygiene. With anatomy, your tooth can be in an irregular position. Perhaps it's protruding because of crowding, and the gum starts to recede. Gum recession can also be caused by genetics—some people just naturally have thin or insufficient gum tissue.

Most cases of gingival recession come from poor dental habits. It can result from overly aggressive brushing—you can actually wear the gum tissue away—or from ineffective removal of the plaque at the base of the tooth. Excessive flossing is another culprit. If you have a habit of holding items in your teeth, or using them to open things, this can also damage the gums.

Symptoms of Gum Recession

Your first clue that you're suffering from gingival recession may be that you see more tooth than usual. However, the change is usually gradual, so you may not notice. More likely you'll notice hyper-sensitivity in your teeth. This occurs because less of your tooth root is protected. You'll notice it especially with temperature and flavor extremes in your food and beverages. As the condition advances, you may also notice your teeth wiggling.

Treatment for Mild Cases

The first step in treating gingival recession is determining the cause. If it's caused by poor dental habits, dentists can advise patients about more effective ways for brushing and flossing. You can change these habits yourself—especially if you suspect the gum recession is caused by using your teeth as tools. Your dentist may deeply clean your teeth to remove plaque and tartar buildup.

Gum Grafting

When the gingival recession is more advanced, dentists sometimes recommend gum grafting. Your dentist might recommend undergoing one of three gum grafting procedures. According to Web MD, the most common method is using connective tissue grafts. Dentists use a flap of connective tissue from under the roof of your mouth to repair the missing tissue. Free gingival grafts and pedicle grafts are similar, but the dentist uses skin from other areas.

Take a good look at your teeth. If you suspect gingival recession is an issue, contact a dentist like Stephen J Vanyo DMD PA to learn about treatment options before you experience tooth loss.