Receding gums can be easy to spot--especially if you have a dentist regularly check your teeth. Receding gums are exactly what they sound like--the gum tissue no longer adequately "hugs" your teeth. You may notice a heightened sensitivity, as well as pain while chewing. If left untreated, receding gums can result in bone loss and eventually, loss of the tooth or teeth. There are several possible causes for receding gums, and often, the cause determines the procedure that is required to fix it. For example, receding gums that are caused by an improper bite may be reversible with braces. Often, receding gums are caused by poor oral hygiene that results in gum disease, or in its later stages, periodontitis.
If the receding gums are caused by gum disease or its later stage, periodontitis, you will need to have a thorough checkup by your dentist, who can determine how far the receding gum has progressed by measuring the "pockets" in the gums. If caught early enough, gum disease may be reversed by careful oral hygiene. It is important to brush and floss well. However, be sure you don't brush too hard, as excessive abrasion can also lead to receding gums.
Scaling and Root Planing
For cases of gum disease that have advanced to the point where more than good at-home oral hygiene is needed, patients may consider scaling and root planing. The scaling and root planing procedure may be able to remove gum disease by scraping the deep pockets of the gums to remove tartar, plaque and bacteria. Damaged or rough areas are then smoothed over. If all goes well, the gums may then eventually be able to grow and reattach to the teeth.
Soft Tissue Grafts
Serious cases of receding gums may required a graft. First, all the bacteria has to be scraped away. Then, healthy tissue has to be taken from an area, such as the roof of your mouth. It is then grafted onto the damaged gums. This procedure requires a recovery time, just like any other surgery. Patients will only be able to eat liquid or very soft foods for a period of time. It is also important to follow the dentist's instructions regarding keeping the area free of infection during the healing period.
In certain cases, your dentist may recommend trying a regenerative procedure to treat receding gums. In this method, a topical application is placed directly on the affected area. The application consists of porcine-derived enamel matrix proteins, which help to regenerate the lost tissue.
There is also a newer, experimental procedure you can ask your dentist about. However, the American Dental Association has not approved it yet. The procedure entails a dentist using a drill to roughen the smooth surface of the exposed teeth. An adhesive is applied, and the teeth are exposed to a special, high-intensity blue light. Another layer of adhesive filling is then applied. The idea behind this is that the adhesive will prevent the teeth from decaying further and the structure of the teeth will remain intact.