Gum tissue and accompanying bone are important components of the human body. Our teeth
need something to hold them in place and the gums provide this service through a fascinating blend of vise-like grip
and nurturing protection.
Despite its toughness, however, gum tissue does not regenerate like other types of
tissue. Think of the way your skin heals after being cut. Gum tissue doesn’t work like that and as such, damaged
gums, known as receding gums, don’t grow back to their original state.
Gum recession, or periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissue holding your teeth
in place. Affected gums wear away, pulling back to expose more of the tooth or further to the tooth’s root. Gaps are
then prone to form between the gum and tooth, providing an ideal environment for nasty, disease-causing bacteria to
take hold. Left unchecked, that bacteria can severely damage tissue and bone structure surrounding the tooth, cause
sore or bleeding gums, chewing difficulties, and in some cases complete tooth loss.
The tricky part is receding gums occur very gradually and most people are unaware of the
problem until it has already progressed.
Consistently poor brushing and flossing habits allow bacteria to form plaque and build up
on our teeth to harden into tartar. Efficient brushing and flossing helps remove plaque but once tartar is formed,
only a professional cleaning does the trick.
Early stages of gum disease come in the form of symptoms such as red or swollen gums,
gums that are tender to the touch, bleeding gums, and persistent bad breath.
The most common causes of gum disease include:
We can’t do much about this one, but studies have shown that upwards of 30% of the US
population are likely genetically susceptible to gum disease, regardless of their glowing oral care habits.
Grinding or clenching your teeth exerts a great deal of pressure and that force causes
the gums to recede.
Overzealous brushing or simply brushing the wrong way can cause a tooth’s enamel to
gradually wear away, leading to receding gums.
Infrequent brushing, flossing, and use of mouthwash provides the ideal environment for
As gums continue to recede, afflicted people may notice several common symptoms including
long teeth, exposed roots, and loose teeth. Long teeth is a term associated with a visible “lengthening” of the
teeth; in other words, teeth have the appearance of being longer due to receding gums.
Exposed roots are a sure sign of periodontal disease and are often very sensitive and
painful. This is typically a result of aggressive brushing with a hard-bristled brush.
You may also notice some teeth becoming loose due to the bacteria under the gums. As the
gum’s attachment integrity fails, pockets in the gums form and get deeper.
Even though receding gums won’t grow back, you can still prevent them from receding
further and surgical procedures for advanced cases
Mild stages of gum recession can be treated by a professional cleaning to remove plaque
and tartar and smooth over exposed root areas. Antibodies can also be used to kill off any stubborn remaining
Advanced gum recession is sometimes insufficient due to excess bone loss and deep gum
pockets. In these cases, patients may have to opt for oral surgery.
How can you prevent gum recession in the first place? The best way is to take good care
of what you have. Brush and floss at least twice a day and visit your dentist no less than two times a year. If you
smoke, stop it. Eat a healthy diet and stay alert to any changes to your mouth and teeth. Using a battery-powered
toothbrush also goes a long way toward strong, healthy teeth.
If you have or suspect gum disease, go see your dentist. He or she can measure recession
and if bacteria are spotted, they will likely recommend a scaling and root planing procedure. This involves scraping
tartar from your teeth and gum line with specialized tools to loosen and remove plaque.
Your dentist also might apply an antibacterial gel under the gum line or prescribe an
antibiotic mouthwash. This helps remove bacteria and is an effective first step in slowing or even stopping gum
For answers to more questions on periodontal disease, contact Beach City Dental at (714)
790-1662 or beachcitydental.com.