Do you have Receding Gum? What do you know about Gum Recession (Gingival Recession)?
Gum Recession is the process in which the margin of the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth wears away, or pulls back, exposing more of the tooth, or the tooth’s root. When gum recession occurs, “pockets,” or gaps, form between the teeth and gum line, making it easy for disease-causing bacteria to build up.
Gum Recession is very common among people who are above 40 years old, however, gum recession can also be seen in young people due to some causes.
What Are The Causes Of Gum Recession?
- Periodontal diseases. These diseases destroy the gum tissue and supporting bone that hold your teeth in place. Gum disease is the main cause of gum recession.
- Bruxism (Grinding & clenching of teeth). Bruxism can put too much force on the teeth, causing gums to recede.
- Aggressive or incorrect tooth brushing. If you brush your teeth too hard or in the wrong way, it can cause tooth wear and gum recession.
- Tobacco users are more likely to have sticky plaque on their teeth that is difficult to remove. This could result in gum recession.
- Dental trauma due to accident or self-infliction.
- Flossing with inappropriate technique.
- Hormonal changes. Fluctuations in female hormone levels during a woman’s lifetime (such as in puberty, pregnancy, and menopause) can make gums more sensitive and more vulnerable to gum recession.
- Crooked teeth or a misaligned bite. When teeth do not come together evenly, too much force can be placed on the gums and bone, allowing gums to recede.
- Insufficient dental care. Inadequate tooth brushing, flossing, and rinsing with antibacterial mouthwash can lead to poor periodontal health, thus causing gum recession.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms of Gum Recession?
- Dentine (Tooth) hypersensitivity. Short, sharp pain is triggered by hot, cold, sweet, sour, or spicy food and drink.
- Food lodgement between the teeth.
- Tooth Mobility.
- Dental Decay (Dental Caries) of Tooth Root.
- Halitosis (Bad breath).
- Teeth appear longer than normal.
- The roots of the tooth are exposed and visible.
- Change in the teeth’s color (due to the color difference between enamel and cementum).
- Spaces between teeth seem to grow (it seems larger because the gums do not fill it any more)
Classification of Gum Recession (Miller’s Classification System):
Class I– Marginal tissue recession that does not extend to the mucogingival junction. There is no loss of interdental bone or soft tissue.
Class II– Marginal tissue recession that extends to or beyond the mucogingival junction, with no periodontal attachment loss (bone or soft tissue) in the interdental area.
Class III– Marginal tissue recession that extends to or beyond the mucogingival junction, with periodontal attachment loss in the interdental area or malpositioning of teeth.
Class IV– Marginal tissue recession that extends to or beyond the mucogingival junction, with severe bone or soft-tissue loss in the interdental area and/or severe malpositioning of teeth.
How To Treat Gum Recession?
Treatment should address the underlying problem(s) that cause the gum recession.
If poor plaque control is a contributing factor, oral hygiene practice of the patient has to be improved by daily tooth brushing, dental flossing, and the use of mouthwash. Besides that, regular dental visit is recommended for good oral health.
If severe calculus (tartar) is the cause, dental procedures such as dental scaling and root planing are indicated.
If malocclusion (incorrect bite) is a factor, an occlusal adjustment (bite adjustment), bite splint or orthodontic treatment may be needed.
If cause-specific measures are insufficient, soft-tissue graft surgery may be used to create more gingiva. The tissue used may be autologous tissue from another site in the patient’s mouth, or it can be freeze-dried tissue products or synthetic membranes. New research is focused on using stem cells to culture the patients’ own gum tissue to replace the receded gums.
Even though treatments are available for gum recession, the outcomes of treatments are dependant on the severity of the Gum Recession:
- Complete root coverage is achievable in Class I and II Gum Recession Cases.
- In Class III Gum Recession Cases, only partial root coverage is possible to the highe of the contour of interproximal tissue.
- In Class IV Gum Recessio Cases, root coverage is unpredictable. Adjunctive treatments such as orthodontic treatment might be needed as well.
How To Prevent Gum Recession?
The best way to prevent gum recession is through the practice of good oral hygiene. Brush and floss your teeth every day and see your dentist at least twice a year. Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush to brush your teeth in a proper way.
Other ways to prevent gum recession include:
- Quit smoking if you smoke.
- Eat a well balanced and healthy diet.
- Monitor changes that may occur in your mouth.
Article written by,
Dr. Wong Kee Cheong (Tommy)
BDS (AIMST), MBA (SEGi), YCDP