What Causes Receding Gums?
Receding gums, otherwise known as gingival recession, is a condition in which the roots of teeth are exposed because the gums have receded. It is most common among adults over the age of 40, though it begins as early as the teens.
While receding gums themselves are sometimes a simple sign of aging, there are times when they signify something more. People who experience the following symptoms in conjunction with receding gums should consult their dentist to determine if something more serious may be going on.
- Swollen, red, or tender gums
- Mouth sores
- Persistent bad breath
- Bleeding gums
- Bite changes (teeth no longer fit together when biting)
- Gums pulling away from the teeth
- Loose or separating permanent teeth
- Pus between teeth and gums
- Changes in the fit of partial dentures
The American Academy of Periodontology recommends scheduling dental appointments any time any of these symptoms appear in conjunction with receding gums. Failing to seek appropriate treatment may lead to tooth loss.
Remember, that many people with of gum disease are symptom free. That is why regular dental checkups are vital to maintaining a healthy smile. Early detection of gum disease leads to prompt treatment and fewer long-term repercussions.
Potential Causes of Receding Gums
Many people, particularly those over the age of 40, consider receding gums as one of the many things that happens to the body with age. To some degree this is true. There are many instances where receding gums is the result of years of aggressive tooth brushing and the wear and tear that occurs with aging.
Periodontal disease is another cause of receding gums. The California Dental Association maintains that three out of four adults have some form of gum disease. The problem is that it doesn’t cause pain in most cases. This means that it often remains undiagnosed for years.
Risk Factors for Gum Disease?
Since gum disease often correlates to receding gums, it’s impossible to explore the potential causes of receding gums without also discussing risk factors for gum disease. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the risk factors below greatly increase a patient’s odds of developing gum disease.
- Chewing tobacco
- Cancer therapy
- Oral contraceptives
- Crooked teeth
Receding Gum Treatment Options
Preventive steps, such as regular dental exams and cleaning, are always a positive measure to avoid receding gums. Good overall oral hygiene, eliminating tobacco, and straightening crooked teeth will also help prevent gum disease.
Once gums begin to recede, however, more aggressive actions become necessary. Treatment options include:
- Deep Cleaning – which includes removing plaque and tartar buildup below the gum and where roots are exposed.
- Gum Grafting – removes healthy tissue from the roof of the mouth to replace missing gum tissue along the tooth root.
- Regeneration – in advanced cases of gum recession, the dentist places regenerative materials in the area where bone has suffered severe damage to help regenerate the bone and tissue in that area and surrounding areas.
Anyone who suspects gum disease or who has noticed receding gums should consult with a dental professional immediately in order to determine an appropriate treatment plan.