Healthy gums form a tight seal around the tooth where the crown of the tooth
meets the root. If the gums recede, the root of the tooth becomes exposed, causing the attachment between the tooth and the socket to weaken.
When the gum recedes, the tooth may eventually become loose and, in severe cases, may have to be extracted by the dentist. If the roots are exposed, the teeth may be sensitive to hot, cold or sweet substances.
Since the roots are softer than the enamel on the crown of the tooth, they are also more susceptible to decay. Periodontitis affects many people over 55 and is a major cause of tooth loss. In this condition, the periodontal tissues that secure teeth in their sockets become inllamed, and the teeth loosen. Eventually, teeth may fall out. The damage from periodontitis is irreversible, but further inflammation can be prevented with treatment and by improving oral hygiene.
Causes of Receding Gums
- Severely receding gums are usually a symptom of chronic gingivitis or periodontitis.
- These disorders are usually a result of poor oral hygiene and a build-up of plaque (a deposit of food particles, mucus, and bacteria) and calculus (hardened plaque) between the base of the teeth and gums. The gums will eventually become inflamed and recede, exposing the roots of the teeth.
- Vigorous, abrasive tooth brushing along the margins of the gums, particularly in a horizontal direction with a hard toothbrush, may also cause the gums to recede.
- Toothpastes containing abrasives contribute.
Measures of Receding Gums
- Improving your oral hygiene is important in order to stop the gums from receding further.
- Your dentist or oral hygienist will probably use a procedure known as scaling to remove plaque and calculus from your teeth. Scaling should help prevent your gums from receding any further.
- She will also advise you on your tooth brushing and flossing techniques to avoid further damage to the exposed roots.
- Your dentist or oral hygienist may also suggest that you use a desensitizing toothpaste or fluoride mouthwash, which will also reduce the risk of decay.
- If your teeth are very sensitive, the dentist may treat them with a desensitizing varnish or an adhesive filling material.
Gum-grafting procedures may be used to help cover exposed root surfaces and prevent further recession of the gums.
- If severely receding gums cause your teeth to loosen, they can sometimes be fixed to teeth that are more firmly anchored in the jawbone.