Gum recession is the retraction or shrinking of your gum tissue from the surfaces of your tooth roots. Visually, if you look at your teeth in the mirror, you can see areas of gum recession. Usually, your root surfaces will appear slightly darker or with a yellow colour, and there may also be a notch where the crown meets the root. Although common, no amount of gum recession is normal, and gum recession indicates an underlying cause.
What does gum recession look and feel like?
You may notice these areas are more sensitive than the rest of your teeth. This is due to the exposure of the underlying root surface, which doesn’t have a protective enamel coating on it. The areas may also have a darker, yellow or notched-out appearance. If your gum recession is causing sensitivity, you can use sensitivity toothpaste for brushing.
What are the causes of gum recession?
Unfortunately, there are many reasons why you may end up with gum recession. The most common of these are aggressive toothbrushing. If the bristles of your toothbrush are continually causing trauma to the gum line, your gums will eventually wear away, leading to recession. The gum recession caused by aggressive brushing is most common on the front side of teeth, where we tend to brush harder. In addition, using a toothbrush with medium or stiff bristles will put you at a higher risk for recession. Other causes of gum recession are trauma (such as from a piercing or nail biting,) clenching or grinding your teeth, poor oral hygiene, and old/ faulty restorative work such as fillings and dental crowns.
How can you prevent gum recession?
To prevent gum recession, you have to address the cause of the gum recession. Try to reduce habits, such as nail biting, that may contribute to recession. Make sure not to scrub your gums too hard with your toothbrush, and always use either a soft manual toothbrush or an electric toothbrush. Use a night guard if you are prone to clenching or grinding your teeth. If you have an oral piercing, change the jewellery from metal to plastic. See your dentist routinely for cleanings.
How is gum recession treated?
If you have gum recession, your gum measurements will be taken at each check-up appointment to monitor for any changes. If your gum recession is mild, from 1-2mm, it can be monitored by your dentist. If your gum recession is more severe, 3+mm, it may be beneficial to discuss gum grafting with your dentist. Gum grafting is the best option for fixing areas of gum recession. Gum tissue is taken from your palate and used as a replacement for lost gum tissue. This procedure can restore your gum lines and only takes a week or 2 to heal.
If you have any questions about gum recession, we encourage you to contact the office to schedule an appointment.