It can be a bit scary—or even painful—to notice you have receding gums, but often, it’s very easily treatable. In many instances, you can take care of receding gums in your own home by changing dental hygiene habits. In some cases, you might need more advanced treatment from your dentist.
Getting to the Root
So where does gum recession begin? There are actually a number of causes, ranging from something as simple as poor hygiene to more complex matters such as oral injury. Common causes include:
- Aggressive brushing: If you brush too hard, it could wear down tooth enamel, causing gums to recede. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, and make sure you’re being gentle with your teeth.
- Bruxism: Tooth grinding, or bruxism, puts excessive force on your teeth, causing the gums to recede as well as putting you at risk for tooth fracture.
- Tooth misalignment: Misaligned teeth put extra stress on teeth in certain areas, straining bone and gum tissue, causing it to recede.
- Genetics: Those with a family history of receding gums are more likely to develop it themselves since your genes determine the structure of your gum tissue.
- Poor oral hygiene: Naturally, poor oral hygiene leads to increased levels of bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria forms plaque, which hardens into tartar and causes gums to recede.
- Trauma: Whether it’s from an oral injury, overly aggressive brushing, or even the presence of a lip or tongue piercing, trauma to the mouth can cause gums to withdraw from the teeth.
- Tobacco use: Chewing and smoking both increase the incidence of hard-to-remove plaque. This plaque causes gum recession as well as other dental health issues.
- Gum disease: Periodontitis, or gum disease, occurs as plaque builds up on the teeth along the gumline. This leads to tooth decay and causes periodontal tissue to detach from the teeth.
Ultimately, the treatment will depend on the cause of your gum recession. It might be as simple as improving your oral hygiene habits, perhaps by brushing more gently or flossing more often. In other cases, such as advanced periodontitis, you will need help from your dentist.
Treatments your dentist might offer include the following:
- Tooth cleaning, such as by scaling and root planing which removes plaque and tartar buildup
- A bite guard to stabilize teeth and prevent grinding
- Antibiotics to get rid of bacteria
- LANAP laser gum surgery, which clears out infected tissue and promotes healing