Receding gums are a major symptom of periodontal disease. Gums can also naturally recede as a patient ages or when patients brush their teeth too aggressively. Receding gums can lead to root exposure, infection, and tooth loss. Periodontists can fix receding gums with a surgical procedure called gum grafting.
About Receding Gums
Receding gums are a symptom of advanced periodontal disease. They can also occur as part of the natural aging process or due to genetic factors. Gums recede when their tissue begins to pull away from the teeth.
When gums recede, the root system suffers damage due to exposure, including inflammation and infection. Tooth loss may result. Receded gums can cause excess tooth sensitivity when eating hot or cold foods.
Many patients do not notice receding gums until the problem has become severe. It is crucial to be aware of the signs of receding gums and bring the problem to your dentist’s attention. While periodontists cannot reverse receding gums, they can prevent the problem from growing worse using a surgical procedure called gum grafting.
Gum recession can be an aesthetic problem as well, and many patients choose gum grafts to improve their appearance. An aesthetic gum graft covers exposed roots and reshapes the gum line to create an attractive look.
Signs of Receding Gums
- More visible tooth surface: You may notice notches or lines where the gum has receded away from the tooth.
- Bleeding when brushing or flossing
- Swollen, red gums
- Bad breath
- Visible tooth roots
- Pain along the gum line
- Sensitivity to heat and cold
- Loose teeth
The Gum Grafting Procedure
During a gum grafting procedure, a periodontist surgically removes tissue from other parts of the mouth and applies it to receding areas of the gums.
Before you receive your gum graft, your periodontist will evaluate you for signs of gum disease. They will measure the periodontal pockets where the gum has pulled away from the tooth surface. The doctor may recommend surgery or may monitor your gum recession first.
The first step in gum graft surgery is receiving local anesthesia. With local anesthesia, the procedure will be comfortable. However, if you feel that you need sedation for this procedure, talk to your periodontist about their options.
Next, the periodontist makes a small incision to create a flap in your gum. At this time, they will clean the roots of your teeth.The periodontist then retrieves a small wedge of graft tissue, usually from the palate or roof of the mouth. They take the inner layers of tissue and leave the outer layer intact. They suture the site closed.
The periodontist applies the gum graft to the exposed roots. They stitch your gum to complete the procedure. You may have dissolvable stitches or those that need removal at the next visit.
The surgery takes about an hour for the first gum graft and can take longer depending on how many areas need attention.
Preventing Gum Recession
To prevent periodontal disease and gum recession, improve your at-home care routine. Brush carefully twice a day for at least two full minutes, reaching all surfaces on the front and back of the teeth. Floss daily to remove plaque and food accumulation. Maintain a regular schedule for dental cleanings.
While keeping your teeth clean is a must, avoid brushing your teeth too hard. Excessive scrubbing or using a medium or harder toothbrush can cause gum recession.
Frequently Asked Questions About Periodontics
Is gum disease reversible?
Only gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease, is fully reversible, given excellent home oral care and professional attention. Dentists can only treat the later stages of gum disease. They cannot reverse them. Gum grafting can help to slow the progression of the disease and preserve your teeth for years to come.
Is gum grafting painful?
The periodontist will use local anesthesia to ensure the procedure is comfortable, with optional sedation if you feel anxious or want to relax during the surgery. You may have minor soreness during the healing process, but over-the-counter medication should be sufficient.
Call Total Dental Care
If you have noticed the signs of receding gums, act now to protect your teeth. Prompt treatment may help you preserve your teeth in the long term. Call our Germantown, MD, office at 240-813-9111 to schedule an appointment with our periodontist.