If you are here and have already clicked on this blog post, you must have noticed a change in the way your teeth look now.
Its possible that this change is directly related to a receding gum line, aka your gums are pulling back exposing the root of the teeth.
Wondering if it can be fixed, and if so, how?
But before I tell you how to fix a receding gum line, let’s talk about what might be causing it.
Receding gums can occur if your oral hygiene is poor, incorrect brushing technique, smoking, genetic factors etc.
The good news however is that if taken care of at the right time, they can be fixed.
If your gum line is receding and its only happening due to gum disease which is at its initial stages, no problem!
In that case, getting regular dental cleanings done will solve the problem.
But if you are late and the periodontal damage has been done, some surgical procedures will need to be performed in order to get your lost gums back.
keep reading to find out more!
Although the causes of a receding gum line are already mentioned above, let’s elaborate on each one of them to understand gum recession better.
The leading cause of gum recession is periodontal disease. It usually starts off with swelling of the gums and a little bit of pocketing here and there.
The gums may even recede a bit but that can easily be taken care of by getting regular scaling done. In fact, within two weeks of deep scaling, the gum line comes back to its place.
But this only happens when the ship is still on the shore!
When the ship sails, your gingivitis has progressed to periodontitis and an extensively receded gum line is one of its symptoms.
Painful bleeding gums along with chronic bad breath are other classic signs of periodontitis.
Many times the reason behind a receding gum line is applying too much pressure while brushing. If you are brushing twice a day but take ages cleaning your teeth, you might be going over the recommended 2 minute mark.
Always time yourself to make sure you get the right amount and if you can, invest in an electric toothbrush. They stop you from damaging your teeth.
Genes play a big role in how our bodies function. From your eye color to how your voice sounds, genes do it all!
In some people genes make them more susceptible to periodontal disease. Plaque buildup occurs more often and keeps them susceptible to it even if they are taking good care of their teeth.
In women, hormones affect gum health greatly. Whether its puberty, pregnancy or menopause, fluctuating hormones have proven to cause gingivitis and if not taken care of properly, the result is periodontal disease and receded gums.
Several studies suggest that smokers and other tobacco users are more likely to form sticky plaque which is not only hard to remove on a daily basis but is also a cause of gum disease and receding gums.
Bruxism is a medical term used to describe the habit of clenching and grinding of teeth especially at night while sleeping.
If you are aware of it please get it treated and get a night guard made for yourself before the gum recession goes too far.
When your teeth are misaligned it becomes even more hard to keep them clean and reduce the plaque buildup.
In all such areas the plaque builds up 2x more and is directly proportional to gum disease and recession.
The treatment procedures for fixing a receding gum line vary.
If the recession is mild then professional dental cleaning, deep curettage and root planing can easily solve the problem.
Root planing basically smoothens the root which makes it harder for the bacteria to attach. At times your dentist may even recommend you to do an antibiotic course in order to keep the bacteria at bay.
But when the gum recession has become visibly extensive and scaling and curettage won’t solve the problem, your periodontist will most likely resort towards surgical procedures
This procedure is the most commonly practiced one amongst periodontists. They claim that gum grafts will not only prevent recession of the gums but will also save the roots of the teeth and the alveolar bone from further damage.
Sensitivity will not be an issue and most importantly you can smile, laugh and talk without being self-conscious.
Coming on to how the process happens, let me make it simple for you.
There are three types of grafts that they can choose from.
Connective tissue graft is the most common procedure. They will take the tissue from the roof of your mouth and stitch it over the area of the exposed root.
Another option is taking the graft directly from the palate, aka free gingival grafts and attach it to the exposed surface.
If the recession is only around one tooth, pedicle grafts which use the tissue adjacent to the tooth of the one that needs repair is taken.
The advancements in dentistry keep reaching new levels. The aim is to make sure that the procedures are less invasive and equally beneficial, hence the pin hole surgical technique.
In this procedure a very small hole is made in the existing gingival tissue of the patient by the help of a pin designed for this procedure.
Through this hole, special instruments are taken and used to gently loosen the gum tissue.
These tools help readjust the existing gingival in a way that it covers the exposed root surface. There is no incision, no suture and no grafts required.
And as far as the success rate is concerned, that is also very promising.
This will be the go-to procedure for most periodontists in the future!
Every surgical procedure comes with its fair share of risks. It all depends on the level of expertise of your dentist. Since it’s only a qualified periodontist who can do the job, you have nothing to worry about.
Coming on to other risks that won’t really happen during the procedure but may occur post op if you don't follow the advice your periodontist gives you:
The internet is full of ‘natural remedies’ for receding gums however, in reality all these tips and tricks have no basis.
In fact all the natural remedies like keeping a good diet or doing warm saline rinses or using hydrogen peroxide are based on facts but only when it comes to gingivitis or mild gum disease.
But when your gum has already left its place and the roots have been exposed, no flossing or rinsing your mouth with a million different things will help.
The only thing that can help you is going to the dentist.
However if you think your gum disease is very mild and can be cured, you are most welcome to do warm saline and hydrogen peroxide rinses.
Still, I am sure that scaling will be necessary!
If you see a little bit of recession only around a tooth or two, going through a whole surgical process seems like a dumb idea.
Why not resort to an easier option and make sure it doesn’t go beyond this!
The first thing you need to do to stop the recession from going any further is to find the cause behind the receding gums.
If its poor oral hygiene and buildup of plaque and calculus, well then you know what you need to do. Regular dental cleanings, brushing and flossing.
If the cause is something else we need to get to the root (not literally) and figure that out.
If the reason is clenching or grinding of teeth, you have to make sure you are wearing a night guard before sleeping.
If your teeth are severely misaligned, an orthodontist will be of great help to you. They will help you with the alignment of your teeth and also help you take care of your oral hygiene while you have braces on.
If you are putting way too much pressure while brushing, use a soft toothbrush and learn the correct brushing technique.
If you are a woman who is pregnant or is facing frequent hormonal fluctuations, your oral hygiene routine should be on the tips of your fingers. Brush, floss, clean your tongue, use mouthwash and most importantly, maintain a stress-free lifestyle.
If you are a smoker, please forget about having good teeth until you stop smoking because plaque buildup is best friends with tobacco!
If you want to take it a step further, start using an electric toothbrush and save yourself from the hassle of brushing technique. Massage your gums and use a toothpaste that is specifically aimed at tackling gum recession.
Receding gums are directly proportional to gum disease!
Before we start the gummy talk, understand that healthy gums are directly proportional to good oral hygiene too!
Coming back to receding gums, they usually start appearing when there are signs of gingivitis. When the case is just mild, deep scaling and curettage will help get your gums back in place.
But when the gums have exceedingly receded exposing the root of the teeth, surgical procedures like gingival grafts and pin hole surgical technique will have to come to the rescue.
However if the reason behind the gum recession is other than poor oral hygiene or buildup of plaque like vigorous brushing and grinding of the teeth, the causes need to be taken care of first and foremost.
Wear a night guard if you have a habit of bruxism and purchase an electric toothbrush or perhaps a soft toothbrush to not let this habit damage your gums any further.
As far as the natural remedies are concerned, you can most definitely do warm saline rinses post procedures and practice some home remedies as a part of your daily oral hygiene routine.
But please forget about treating already receded gums through natural remedies.
That is not possible and only a dentist can solve this for you. So please don’t waste your time doing baseless things once the gingival ship has sailed!
Lastly, if you are a woman with frequent hormonal fluctuations or are currently pregnant, take extra care of your oral hygiene.
I repeat, extra care!
Till then, keep smiling 🙂
Carranza's Clinical Periodontology
Oxford Handbook of Clinical Dentistry
A qualified Dentist who holds the BDS, RDS qualification. When she's not helping patients with their oral health, you will find her on here writing topics on various dental issues. Her deep passion for writing makes her happy and fulfilled.
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