Gum recession is not something that happens overnight. In most cases, receding of gums is a progressive
procedure that happens gradually from day to day over the years. That explains the fact that it is common over
the age of 40.
Because the changes in the condition of the gums from one day to another are minimal, we get used to the gums'
appearance and do not notice the changes over longer periods of time. Receding gums may remain unnoticed until
someone else talks about it or until the condition starts to cause other problems.
The following signs and symptoms may indicate gum recession:
o Sensitive teeth - Teeth become sensitive to hot and cold or to sweet, sour, or spicy foods. If the cementum covering the
root is not protected any more by the gums it is easily abraded exposing the dentin tubules to external stimuli.
o Teeth may also appear longer than normal (a larger part of the crown is visible if gums are receding).
o The roots of the tooth are exposed and visible and the tooth feels notched at the gum line.
o Change in the tooth’s color (due to the color difference between enamel and cementum)
If the gum recession is caused by gingivitis, the following symptoms may also be present:
o Puffy, red, or swollen (inflamed) gums
o Gum bleeding while brushing or flossing
o Bad breath (halitosis)
There are several possible causes for gum recession:
o Abnormal tooth position, such as tooth crowding, giving inadequate cover of one or more teeth by the jaw bone.
o Hereditary thin, fragile or insufficient gingival tissue.
o Overaggressive brushing, which causes the enamel at the gum line to be worn away by scrubbing the sides of the
teeth in a washboard fashion.
o Periodontal disease
o Inadequate brushing or flossing, which allows bacteria to build up between the teeth, resulting in enzymes eating
the bone away from the teeth
o Eating disorders, from self-induced vomiting
o Adult orthodontic movement of teeth.
o Piercings in the lip or tongue that wear away the gum by rubbing against it.
o Sensitivity to sodium Lauryl sulfate (SLS), an ingredient in most commercial toothpastes.
o Dipping tobacco, which affects the mucus membrane lining in the mouth and will cause receding gums over time
o Grinding of the teeth
o Intentional gingival retraction. For example, the adult tooth may not grow out of the gum, and to remedy this, a
procedure called an exposure is done. It involves the gum tissue being cut open to allow the adult tooth to grow
out. This is a less common cause of gum recession.
Treatment should start with addressing the problem which caused the gum recession.
If overactive brushing is the cause, the patient should consider purchasing a softer toothbrush and use a more gentle brushing
If poor plaque control was a contributing factor, improved oral hygiene must be performed, combined with regular professional
dental cleanings as prophylaxis.
o If severe calculus (tartar) was the cause, then a procedure called scaling and root planning may be necessary to clean the teeth
and heal inflammation in the gingiva (gums).
o If malocclusion (incorrect bite) was a factor, an occlusal adjustment (bite adjustment) or bite splint may be recommended.
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