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Gum Recession: Causes and Treatment Options

Gum Recession

Gum tissue is supposed to attach snugly to the roots of your teeth. If you notice that your gum tissue is loose or that more enamel is exposed compared to other teeth, you might be suffering from gum recession.

Receding gums aren’t just a cosmetic issue. Without adequate gum tissue, the roots of your teeth can be exposed to plaque that leads to decay. Gum recession can also lead to bad breath, loose teeth, and swollen tissue. Read on to learn why gum recession happens and how to treat it.

What Causes Gum Recession?

As you age, your gum tissue may naturally recede. In fact, around 88% of people older than 65 have at least one tooth that has recession.

While recession naturally occurs with age, other factors that can cause it include:

  • The use of tobacco products
  • Teeth grinding
  • Aggressive tooth brushing
  • Hormonal changes
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Certain health conditions, like diabetes

You may be able to stop receding gums with small changes. For instance, if you use a hard-bristled toothbrush or you brush your teeth too hard, using gentler strokes or a soft-bristled toothbrush could solve the problem.

If you grind your teeth at night, you may not only have gum recession but other issues like tension headaches, tooth sensitivity, and tooth microfractures. If you get fitted with a mouth guard, you may be able to eliminate the recession along with other issues.

If your gum recession is caused by gingivitis or periodontal disease, then your dentist might recommend a deep cleaning called scaling and root planing. During this deep cleaning, plaque is cleaned out of gum pockets. Once gum pockets are cleaned of bacteria, your gum tissue will be able to heal more tightly around tooth roots.

What If the Gum Recession Doesn’t Heal With Lifestyle Adjustments?

Sometimes changes in your habits aren’t enough to heal gum recession. However, you can seek out surgical options to correct the problem.

Gum Grafting

In the past, the main surgical option was gum grafting. During gum grafting, a dentist takes healthy tissue from the roof of your mouth and places it in an area of recession. While this surgical option can help gum recession, some patients aren’t keen on having stitches and post-operative symptoms, like swelling and bleeding.

Pinhole Surgery

Another surgical option you may want to consider is pinhole surgery.

Pinhole surgery is a minimally invasive treatment. Instead of using a scalpel, the dentist makes a tiny pinhole in your gum tissue. They then stick an instrument into the hole and gently loosen the gingival tissue so that it can be pulled over tooth roots.

Instead of using gum grafts to heal gum recession, pinhole surgery allows the dentist to use the gum tissue you already have to heal the problem. Once the tissue is pulled over tooth roots, it’s stabilized with collagen strips that encourage healing.

Unlike gum grafts, you won’t have stitches during this surgery. You may also experience less post-operative symptoms compared to more invasive surgeries. Your healing time may be shorter, and you won’t be as in much pain.

Pinhole surgery is incredibly beneficial for those who have multiple sites of gum recession. While gum grafting may require many appointments, your dentist can correct multiple areas of recession with just one pinhole surgery session.

It’s a good idea to consult with your dentist about this option, as people who smoke or have poor oral health may not be viable candidates for this route. Contact us at Dr. Jerry F. Maymi & Associates to learn more about pinhole surgery and other ways to correct your gum recession.