Receding gums means that your gums have pulled away from one or more of your teeth, leaving the delicate root exposed and creating more space for sticky plaque to build up. If left untreated, gum recession can eventually cause bone and tooth loss.
Symptoms of Receding Gums
So, how can you tell if your gums are pulling back from your teeth? There are a few common symptoms:
- Long teeth: If your teeth look longer than they did before, that’s because the gums are receding and exposing more of the surface area of the teeth.
- Loose teeth: When your gums pull back from your teeth, it creates pockets in between the gums and teeth. Your pearly whites are no longer as firmly anchored into your gums as they used to be, making them loose.
What Causes Gums to Recede?
Several factors can contribute to gum recession, including:
- Periodontal disease: Also known as gum disease, periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that destroys gum tissue. Early signs of gum disease include chronic bad breath, red or swollen gums, and gums that bleed easily, especially when brushing and flossing.
- Genetics: Even if you take perfect care of your teeth, some people are more genetically predisposed to periodontal disease.
- Hormone levels: As a woman enters different phases of her life, like puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, shifting estrogen levels can make gums sensitive and susceptible to recession.
- Tobacco products: People who smoke or chew tobacco are more likely to contract gum disease.
How to Treat Gum Recession
Unfortunately, gum tissue doesn’t regenerate the way other types of tissue does (like the epithelial tissue of your skin, for example). As a result, receding gums don’t grow back.
Mild cases of gum recession can often be treated with a dental deep cleaning, which involves procedures called scaling and root planing. Scaling entails using special tools to remove plaque and tartar from beneath the gum line.
Root planing involves smoothing out the roots of the teeth. This process helps the gums reattach to the teeth. Your dentist may also apply a topical antibiotic to the area and/or prescribe a round of oral antibiotics.
Receding gums is a fairly common problem, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of the world. As long as you recognize the signs and get it treated quickly enough, your gums can generally heal up pretty quickly.