Gum recession is the wearing away of gum tissue around a tooth, thereby exposing more of the crown or the underlying root structure. Gum recession can occur quickly due to trauma but often happens slowly over some time. When gum recession occurs, triangular shaped openings between teeth can form, making it more difficult to clean between teeth. Recession can range anywhere from a fraction of a millimetre to a large portion of the root. If it becomes severe, tooth mobility or even tooth loss can occur.
There are several factors involved in the cause of the recession. Sometimes one factor alone may be the culprit, and sometimes it may be due to multiple factors. Listed below are the main factors known to influence gum recession:
Aggressive tooth brushing – If a person is scrubbing too aggressively with a toothbrush, over time the gum tissue will wear away. This is a slow process, which may happen over years. It is recommended to use either a super soft or soft manual toothbrush or an electric toothbrush with a pressure sensor that indicates when too much pressure is being applied.
Periodontal disease – The build-up of bacteria at the gum line can lead to the gums and even the supporting bone to be slowly destroyed. The fewer bacteria around the gums, the less likely it will cause gum recession.
Malocclusion/clenching habit – Due to extra forces on the teeth when they are not in proper alignment, gum and bone support around the teeth can pull away. This is also true with clenching and grinding due to extra biting pressure.
Genetics – Genetics play a role in susceptibility to gum recession. As many as 30% of people may be more likely to develop gum recession, with no other notable cause.
Hormones – Gum recession may be linked to fluctuations in hormone levels. Some notable links are pregnancy and menopause.
Gum recession is treated depending on the cause. If the gum recession is linked to bacteria, build up and inflammation, potentially, a deep cleaning may be able to rectify it to some extent. Most often a soft tissue graft will be recommended if the recession is a couple millimetres or more. During a tissue graft procedure, tissue will be taken from the roof of the mouth and sutured onto the recession site to bring the gum level up. Tissue grafts can also be completed with donor tissue or synthetic tissue. The recommendations for treatment will be discussed thoroughly with your dentist or periodontist before proceeding.
If you believe you may have gum recession, or have any questions about it, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.