Gingival recession, better known as receding gums, refers to the progressive loss of gum tissue. Gingival recession can be caused by pressing too firmly when brushing teeth, or can be a result of gum disease such as gingivitis and periodontitis. As gingival recession progresses, it can result in exposure of the tooth’s root which will make teeth susceptible to hot and cold sensitivity. Regular dental check-ups will help to prevent gum recession and assess risk factors.
Signs of gingival recession:
Sensitive teeth – Excessive gingival recession causes the cementum which protects the tooth’s root to become exposed and the dentin tubules are left vulnerable to external stimuli from hot and cold
Visible roots – Severe gingival recession can expose the tooth’s root which allows bacteria to invade below the gum line
Longer-looking teeth – Individuals experiencing severe gingival recession often have a teeth that appear longer than normal, however the length of the teeth is perfectly normal, they just appear longer because so much gum tissue has been lost
Bleeding, inflammation and halitosis – These symptoms are indicators of gingivitis or periodontal disease. Bacterial infection causes the gums to become red and inflamed and eventually recede from the teeth. If left untreated tooth loss may result. When gingivitis and periodontitis remains untreated, bad breath, known as halitosis occurs
Causes of Gingival Recession
Gingival recession is a common issue for many adult and elderly patients. Gum recession can be corrected with surgical and non-surgical interventions performed to slow the progress of the recession, and prevent it from recurring in the future.
The most common causes of gingival recession are:
Aggressive tooth brushing – Brushing your teeth too rigorously with a hard-bristled toothbrush can erode the tooth enamel at the gum line, and irritate or inflame gum tissue and cause bleeding.
Poor oral hygiene – When dental plaque is not removed adequately during regular brushing and flossing, bacteria builds up and begins to affect the gum tissue. The bacterial toxins in plaque promote infection and erode the underlying jawbone.
Periodontal disease – Periodontal disease is usually the result of improper oral hygiene but can be a result of systemic diseases such as diabetes. Excess sugars in the mouth and narrowed blood vessels caused by diabetes create an ideal environment for oral bacteria to thrive. The bacterium causes an infection which progresses below the gum line and deep into the bone that supports the teeth, eventually resulting in tooth loss.