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Gingival recession

Small smile with a finger lifting the upper lip and pointing to red, irritated gums on the left side

Gingival recession, or gum recession, is a common dental condition that can occur at any time. This process is characterized by the gums pulling back from their normal location, exposing the tooth’s root. When the root becomes exposed, tooth sensitivity to temperature increases causing discomfort or pain to occur when the tooth is subjected to hot or cold. Gingival recession usually occurs slowly and is not always immediately noticed until sensitivity develops.

There may be several factors that cause your gums to recede from their normal positions. Among the most common cause for gingival recession is periodontal, or gum, disease. If you are suffering from a bacterial infection that destroys gum tissue, you are at a high risk for gingival recession. Other causes include: genes, aggressive tooth brushing, insufficient dental care, abnormal tooth positioning, gum trauma, hormonal changes, and smoking or the use of tobacco.

Some factors, like genetics and hormonal changes, are out of your control. People may be predisposed to gingival recession because their genetics dictate they have thinner gums. Also, during pregnancy or menopause, women’s gums are at a higher risk for recession.
Other causes can be managed to decrease your chances of developing gingival recession. One main thing you can do is take care to not brush your teeth too hard. Hard brushing causes the enamel to wear faster and your gums to recede. Another thing is to simply make sure you are keeping your mouth clean by brushing and flossing daily. You will also want to get conditions like crooked teeth or gum trauma treated to avoid further complications. Also, be sure to avoid smoking and chewing tobacco, since they have detrimental effects to your oral health.

Since gingival recession is so common, even if you do everything to avoid it, you may still be affected by it. However, gingival recession is easily remedied by identifying and addressing the cause. Dr. Batra will help you to determine the specific cause for your gum recession and then make a treatment plan. Some forms of gingival recession can be remedied by simply changing your brushing habits or replacing ill-fitting dentures, while others may need more drastic methods.

If you have a severe case of gingival recession, or if other treatment methods have already failed, you may be a candidate for a gum graft. A gum graft uses a tiny piece of mouth tissue taken from your mouth to cover the exposed root, attaching the tissue to the area where the gums have receded. When the graft heals, the tissue will merge with the gum and cover the exposed area.

After a gum graft, you will need to keep your gums clean and eat a modified diet until the area is fully healed. Dr. Batra will provide you with the specific details on how to clean your gums and what to eat. Most likely you will be sore for a few days after the procedure and you may experience swelling and bruising, although this varies from person to person.

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