How To Effectively Treat Receding Gums

August 9, 2023

Receding gums occur when the gums pull away from the surface of the tooth, exposing the root surfaces of the teeth. Receding gums are one indication of periodontitis. If the underlying cause of the recession isn't treated, affected individuals may lose their teeth. The good news is, multiple treatments are available. The best treatment will vary depending on how advanced the patient's condition is. More serious treatment may be necessary in cases where there's been significant tissue loss. If individuals notice their gums receding, it's important to seek medical help right away. Dentists and periodontists are capable of diagnosing and treating all forms of gum disease. According to the California Dental Association, three in four adults have some kind of gum disease.

Improved Dental Hygiene Practices

The first line of prevention and treatment for receding gums is improved dental hygiene practices. This won't necessarily help the damage that's already been done, but it can help prevent further damage from occurring. If patients have an underlying infection, they'll still need a dentist to help treat the condition. Individuals should be brushing their whole mouth when they brush their teeth. Rather than just getting the surfaces of their teeth, individuals should brush their gums, tongue, and the roof of their mouth. But everyone needs to make sure they aren't brushing aggressively. It doesn't take much pressure to clean well! Brushing too hard can actually cause receding gums and other oral health issues. Individuals should generally brush twice a day and floss once daily to remove plaque between the teeth. Additionally, patients should visit their dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. An ideal schedule is once every six months.

Tooth Scaling And Root Planing

Tooth scaling is a type of dental cleaning that helps patients who have receding gums and other forms of gum disease. Standard dental cleanings help with the tooth's surface. But a scaling gives patients a much deeper clean, as it moves below the natural gumline to help remove plaque built up around the gums. Scaling and root planing are often called deep cleaning. Patients won't typically receive this type of clean at a normal checkup. Dental scaling is usually recommended when individuals have dental pockets of four millimeters or greater. These pockets occur in gum disease and cause the teeth to separate from the gum line. In addition to loosening teeth, the pockets can fill with plaque. The bacteria in the plaque causes an infection that leads to serious tissue damage. Scaling is necessary to remove the plaque patients can't get with a normal toothbrush. Two methods are typically used to scale teeth. The first is to use handheld tools to manually scrape out the plaque. The second is to use an ultrasonic tool that gives off vibrations that chip away plaque while the pocket is flushed with water.

Course Of Antibiotics

Depending on the severity of a patient's receding gums, they may be referred to a periodontist, specialized dentists with expertise in gum disease, for treatment. Periodontitis involves an infection in the pockets of the gums. This is a more advanced form of gingivitis, which occurs when bacteria in plaque cause gums to become inflamed. As with other infections, the usual treatment is a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics help fight infections an individual's immune system can't handle alone. It's very important to complete the full course of antibiotics in the amount of time prescribed. If patients don't complete an antibiotic course, the infection may recur in stronger numbers, which makes it much harder to treat with medication. Some other medications might help treat the underlying gum disease causing the receding gums. Topical antibiotic gel is an option, though whether a dentist will recommend it varies from case to case. Antibacterial mouthwash and antiseptic chips may also be recommended.

Gum Grafting

Receding gums cause the roots of the teeth to be exposed. The root surfaces aren't protected by enamel because they're meant to stay underneath the gums. Patients will notice they are a different color from the usual enamel. The root surfaces of the teeth are more vulnerable to decay, sensitivity, and abrasion. Gum grafting is a procedure dentists may recommend to help correct receding gums and protect the health of the patient's teeth. Patients may be referred to a periodontist for the surgical procedure. To complete a gum graft, the periodontist will harvest a portion of tissue from healthy gum tissue or the roof of the mouth. This tissue is then attached to the area where the gums have become worn down. By doing this, the root surfaces of the teeth are covered and protected. The procedure tends to be fast, and patients can typically leave immediately after it's completed. Three kinds of gum grafts are available: a lateral graft, connective tissue graft, and free gingival graft. The periodontist will discuss the options with their patient and recommend one based on their situation.

Gum Veneers

Gum veneers are an option to help improve the look of a patient's gums and keep their teeth healthy. They may be used if gum grafting isn't an option. Gum veneers serve a similar purpose to dentures, but they function for the gums rather than the teeth. Some are created from acrylic materials and designed so an individual can remove them from their mouth before sleeping and to clean them. Other veneers made of ceramic are designed for permanent fixture in the mouth. It's less common for fixed veneers to be recommended, because they're harder to clean than acrylic and don't always get the same appearance benefits. Getting fitted for veneers is a similar process to getting a tooth replaced or a crown put in. The dentist will provide specific instructions on how to treat the veneer.

Wear Mouth Guard At Night

One of the ways to treat receding gums is to wear a mouth guard at night. Mouth guards help keep individuals from grinding and clenching their teeth while they sleep. Many individuals grind their teeth in their sleep without realizing it. Researchers estimate around twenty percent of the American population grinds their teeth at night. In addition to contributing to receding gums, this condition can wear away at the tooth's surfaces, lead to jaw disorders, and cause headaches and neck pain during the day. Sometimes the grinding is the result of the abnormal alignment of the lower and upper teeth. Night grinding can also be the result of stress and heightened anxiety. When individuals are concerned about night grinding, they should talk to a doctor to find out what kind of mouth guard would be best. They should also make sure to have regular dental checkups so their dentist can check for damage caused by night grinding.

Get Dentures That Fit Properly

Another important aspect of treating receding gums is to get dentures that fit properly. Improperly fitting dentures can contribute to discomfort, pain, and premature receding of the gums. Over twenty million Americans currently have dentures. The shape of the mouth and gums will change slightly as individuals age, so they need to get regular dental checkups and make sure their dentures still fit. If individuals notice their dentures have become damaged, they should get them repaired or replaced rather than continuing to wear them. Difficulty with chewing is also a primary sign their dentures don't fit properly. If patients feel like their dentures are sliding around their mouth while they chew or talk, they need a fitting adjustment. Dentures also play a role in making the jaw look straight and cheeks look full. If individuals notice the shape of their face has a change in appearance, their dentures might need an adjustment. The same is true if the pressure is causing sores on the inside of their mouth.

Stop Smoking and Chewing Tobacco

Smoking and chewing tobacco are both habits that can contribute to gum disease and receding gums. They also have several other health dangers. Smoking greatly increases an individual's chances of lung cancer and chronic lung disease, while chewing tobacco can increase their chances of developing mouth cancer. If individuals stop chewing tobacco and smoking, they can reduce their risk of developing gum disease. If individuals already have gum disease, they can keep the condition from getting worse. Dentists will be able to detect many different tobacco-related conditions when doing a dental examination. One is smoker's melanosis, which occurs when there is a darkening of the pigments of the gums. This occurs when the gums become irritated from prolonged exposure to smoke. Periodontal disease including receding gums is common, and continuing to smoke after diagnosis may make your treatment less effective. Smokers who have receding gums are more likely to suffer tooth loss than nonsmokers with receding gums. Over half of the reported cases of advanced gum disease are linked to tobacco usage.

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