Help! It Looks Like My Gums Are Receding
Recognize the gradual signs of gum recession.
Have you ever been looking in the mirror when you’re suddenly struck by the appearance of new freckles or wrinkles? It feels like these changes arrived overnight even though we know they didn’t. We simply see ourselves in the mirror so often that we don’t realize our face is constantly changing! This is often what happens with gum recession, as it’s usually a gradual process. It’s not uncommon for people to suddenly notice a change in their gumline when they’re flossing or looking in the mirror.
At first, you might even be unsure whether you’re imagining the change or not. It can leave you with a lot of questions. How do you know for sure if your gums are receding? If they are, what does it mean for your oral health? After all, your gums play an essential role in your oral and overall health, so you want to keep them as healthy as possible. We understand how concerning this can be, but don’t worry — we’re here to help! We’ve put together a guide on gum recession to help you identify it and understand what steps you and Dr. Alhadef can take to restore or protect your oral health.
Although you may not have heard gum recession talked about much, it has a surprising number of potential causes. The biggest cause is severe gum disease, also known as periodontitis. This is when bacteria attack your gums, causing them to pull away from your teeth and letting the bacteria beneath your gumline. This can do lasting damage to your gums, but the good news is it’s very simple to prevent! Sticking to a great oral hygiene routine, including flossing every day, will help prevent gum disease. On the other hand, poor oral hygiene often causes periodontitis and gum recession. Genetics also play a role, as some people are more susceptible to gum disease than others. Once again, however, great oral hygiene is usually enough to keep your gums healthy!
That said, it’s possible to overbrush your teeth, which is when you brush your teeth too hard, too often, or incorrectly. Doing this can wear away at your tooth enamel as well as cause gum recession, leading to a lot of potential oral health issues. Other common causes of gum recession include changing hormone levels and using any sort of tobacco product, from smoking to chewing tobacco. When your teeth and the surrounding bone are put under more force than they should be, it can also cause your gums to recede, so habitually clenching or grinding your teeth or having a crooked or misaligned bite can also cause gum recession.
Signs and Symptoms of Gum Recession
Receding gums happens gradually, but there are several signs you can watch out for at home. Tooth sensitivity is often one of the first and most apparent symptoms of gum recession, often appearing even before you notice a change in your gums’ appearance. As your gums recede, you begin to see parts of your teeth that used to be covered by gum tissue, which makes the affected teeth appear longer than they used to be. You might be able to feel a small notch or indentation on your tooth where your gums used to meet it, and your tooth roots may become exposed over time.
This can lead to more extreme tooth sensitivity, sometimes involving sharp pains in response to changes in temperature, sweet foods, or pressure. Exposed tooth roots are also more vulnerable to decay, so you’re more likely to get a cavity in these spots. When your gum recession is caused by an issue like periodontitis, you may also experience symptoms like swollen gums, gums that bleed easily or darken to a red or purple color, chronic bad breath, and the formation of deep pockets between your teeth and gums. Untreated periodontitis can lead to tooth loss, so in extreme cases, you may even begin to feel your teeth becoming loose.
No matter what the cause of your gum recession is, the earlier you get your gums checked out, the more likely it is that you will be able to identify the problem early. This often means that treatment will involve less invasive treatments and your gums will have fewer long-lasting effects. So if you notice any of these signs, you should schedule an appointment with Dr. Alhadef right away.
When the cause of your gum recession is overbrushing, simply learning the proper way to brush your teeth can bring it to a stop. If you struggle to fight the urge to scrub your teeth too hard when you brush them, an electric toothbrush is a great solution because many have pressure sensors that will stop the brush from moving if you’re scrubbing too hard. Quitting using tobacco or undergoing treatment for periodontitis can stop gum recession and restore your oral health. These treatments often include antibiotics, but they can range in severity from root scaling and planing, which involves doing a deep clean beneath your gumline and smoothing down tooth roots, to pocket reduction surgery, which is a procedure where your dentist opens up your gums to clean them more directly.
Once the reason your gums are receding has been identified and resolved, you may want to restore the appearance of your smile and protect exposed tooth roots with gum contouring. While gum contouring is often seen as how to fix a gummy smile, it also includes gum grafting. This procedure uses tissue, either from your mouth or from a donor, to rebuild your gumline, protecting your teeth from sensitivity and cavities while improving the appearance of your smile.
Learn more about gum recession with the help of Dallas Cosmetic Dental.
Gum recession can be a major problem for your oral health, but it’s far from impossible to treat! If you’d like to learn more about how we can halt gum recession in its tracks and even restore your gumline, feel free to schedule a consultation with Dr. Alhadef at any time.