The gums are made of pink tissue in the mouth that joins the base of the teeth. This tissue is dense and supported by a good supply of blood vessels under a moist surface, known as a mucous membrane. The gum or gingival tissue connects with the rest of the oral lining, and it is pink instead of red. The gums are strongly connected to the jawbone and cover all the teeth up to the neck and the roots and safeguard them from pathogens.
Receding gums are a disorder where the gums pull back from the teeth surface, exposing the pink tissue that covers up the root of the teeth. This condition develops once a person has experienced a loss of tissue in the gum. It exposes the delicate roots of the teeth to bacteria and plaque and can lead to tooth decay.
It is one form of periodontal disease, which is a severe outcome of poor dental health and may lead to decay, infection, and tooth loss. Several treatment modes are available depending upon the severity of the tissue loss. Prompt diagnosis and treatment, better the chance of recovery. It is a common condition, but most people do not realize gums are receding until a later stage that may worsen oral health.
Poor dental hygiene and periodontal disease are the causative factors for gingival recession but receding gums can also develop in people with good oral hygiene. Physical wear of the gums owing to forceful tooth brushing or use of hard bristles. Over-brushing can cause receding gums even if the dental hygiene is good. Any inflammation of the tissues can also lead to gum recession. Some people may be prone to receding gums due to inherited factors such as the position of the teeth and gum thickness.
Some of the other physical factors that may push the gums back include:
Lip or tongue piercings
Hardened plaque build-up
Hormonal imbalance in women
Damage from the dental treatment procedure
Certain medications can cause dry mouth, which increases the risk of receding gums. Without enough saliva, the tissues in the mouth can become highly exposed to bacterial infections and injuries.
Symptoms of receding gums include:
Bleeding after brushing or flossing
Swollen, red gums
Pain at the gum line
Exposed tooth roots
A dentist will thoroughly examine the oral cavity to look out for the issue. A probe is used by the dentist to measure gum pockets. The normal size of pocket range between 1 to 3 millimetres and anything larger than this is an indication of gum disease. The dentist upon confirming the diagnosis may further refer the person to a periodontist for better treatment.
A periodontist determines the best mode of treatment to save gum tissues and teeth. Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat any infections if found. Other medications are recommended to treat the underlying problem that is causing gum recession that include:
Topical antibiotic gel
Surgery may be needed in more severe cases of receding gums. Generally, two options are available which include flap surgery and grafting.
Flap surgery is a deep tissue cleaning, where bacteria and tartar build-up within the gums are cleared off. Periodontist during this surgery lifts the gums and then place them back when the procedure is over.
Grafting aims to revive either gum tissues or the bones. Where the periodontist keeps either a synthetic particle or a piece of bone or tissue to assist the gum to grow back. Proper oral care must be maintained post grafting for the procedure to be successful.