What are Receding Gums?
Receding gums is a periodontal or gum condition wherein part of a person’s gums wear away or are pulled back, and thus exposing the root surfaces of the teeth. Gaps form between the teeth and gums, which makes it more likely for disease-causing bacteria to build up. This can further worsen if left unchecked and can cause severe damage to the teeth’s supporting tissue and bone structure. In many cases, this can lead to tooth loss.
The presence of receding gums is usually a result of poor oral hygiene. Although several receding gum treatments are available if you can avoid developing the condition the better. If you do observe symptoms, it is best to see a periodontist as soon as possible to get better treatment results.
Receding gums are a very common condition. Many people don’t realize they have it because it doesn’t show up overnight – instead, it develops gradually. Usually, a person only realizes he/she has gum recession when his/her teeth become very sensitive, or if a tooth looks longer than normal.
What Causes Receding Gums?
Several factors can cause gum recession. These include:
- Periodontal diseases (bacterial gum infection)
When bacteria infect your gums, they can destroy the tissue and bone supporting your gums. This eventually leads to gum recession and other gum diseases.
- Aggressive tooth brushing
Brushing your teeth too aggressively can wear away your teeth’s enamel. This makes it easier for bacteria to invade your teeth and cause your gums to recede, which can lead to more serious periodontal disease. There’s no need to brush too hard to remove plaque. Use soft-bristled toothbrushes instead of medium- or hard-bristled ones.
- Plaque buildup (tartar)
Dental plaque is a sticky film that forms on your teeth. It is usually pale yellow or colourless and is caused by the combination of saliva, food, and fluids that stick to your teeth. It usually contains bacteria, and if not removed can develop into tartar, a hard deposit that sticks to teeth and can only be removed through professional dental cleaning. Tartar contains bacteria that can infect your gums and cause it to recede.
- Genetic causes
Research and case studies have shown that at least 30% of the population may be predisposed to develop periodontal disease, even if they practice proper oral care.
- Improper or insufficient dental care
If your brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash are inadequate, it makes it more likely for plaque to build up and develop into tartar. However, make sure that you don’t overdo it and destroy your teeth enamel. Consult with your dentist for the proper dental routine for your case.
- Tobacco use
Smoking increases the risk of plaque to transform into tartar, which can cause gum recession. If you’re a regular smoker, consider quitting to not only reduce your risk of gum disease but also improve your overall health.
- Hormonal changes
Changes in a person’s hormonal balance, especially in women, can make the gums more vulnerable to gum recession.
- Constant grinding or clenching of teeth
Grinding or clenching your teeth puts unnecessary force on your gums, which can lead to receding gums.
- Dry mouth
Some medications can cause dry mouth, in which there is not enough saliva. This makes your gum tissues more vulnerable to bacterial infection and gum recession.
What are the symptoms of receding gums?
Receding gums are a form of periodontal disease, and its symptoms include the following:
- red and/or swollen gums
- halitosis (bad breath)
- bleeding gums after brushing or flossing
- periodontal pain (gum pain)
- shrinking gum line
- exposed tooth roots
- loose teeth
If you observe any of the above symptoms, consult with a dentist to determine the best course of action for treatment.
How are receding gums treated?
Deep teeth cleaning
For mild gum recession, you can have yours treated by your dentist through deep teeth cleaning. Also called tooth scaling or root planing, deep cleaning involves the careful removal of plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth. The exposed roots of the teeth are also smoothed to prevent bacteria from attaching to it.
Your dentist may also prescribe some antibiotics to get rid of a bacterial infection. Some options for antibiotic treatment include:
- biodegradable antiseptic chips
- topical antibiotic gel
- antiseptic mouthwash
If your gum recession cannot be treated by a professional dental cleaning, then your dentist may refer you to a periodontist for gum surgery. There are two options for receding gums – grafting or flap surgery.
In grafting, the periodontist will try to revive the supporting tissue and bones of your gums. During this procedure, the periodontist will place a synthetic material or a piece of tissue or bone onto your receded gum tissue to try and rebuild it. It is a quick procedure and also requires the patient to support it through proper and regular dental care.
In flap surgery, the periodontist will lift the gum tissue to get rid of bacteria or tartar buildup. It is comparable to deep teeth cleaning except that it is performed on the gum tissue instead. After the procedure is over, the gum flap is put back in place.
Receding gums aren’t rare, and it is more likely than not that you may have developed some form of periodontal disease. Once you’ve observed any of the symptoms we detailed above, schedule an appointment with a periodontist immediately to get proper treatment and advice. To learn more about gum recession and other periodontal diseases, contact Dr. Marlene Teo at 8588 9868 or 6513 9549.
Dr Marlene Teo
360 Orchard Rd, #03-06/07 next to Lido,
International Building, Singapore 238869
+65 8588 9868