Perioplastic Surgery

Gingival Recession

What is gum/ gingival recession?

A tooth is anchored in bone, and the gum (gingiva) forms a protective collar around the neck of the tooth. In some circumstances, the gums recede, exposing the tooth’s root, leading to a condition called gingival recession.

The signs and symptoms include sensitive, loose or longer looking teeth, gums that bleed easily and cavities that develop below the gum line. If left untreated, the supporting structures of the teeth can be severely damaged and may ultimately result in tooth loss.

Ideally your smile should reveal very little gum, and visible tissue should look balanced and even in contrast with your upper lip.

Your optimal smile will depend on the shape of your teeth and their size, as well as the shape and size of your lips. Luckily a gummy smile is something that can be corrected through cosmetic periodontal treatment.

What causes the gum to recede?

There are several factors that can cause gums to recede, including:


Aggressive tooth brushing:

If you brush your teeth too hard or follow an incorrect brushing technique, your gums may recede. Typically, a notch can be felt near the gum line. The recession is usually visible on the side of the tooth facing the lip.


Periodontal disease:

The supporting structures of the tooth are called the periodontium. Disease-causing microorganisms can cause destruction of the periodontium, leading to periodontal disease. Poor oral hygiene, smoking and diabetes are some of the risk factors for periodontal disease. Poor oral hygiene makes it easy for plaque to turn into calculus (tartar) — a hard substance that builds on and between your teeth. Tobacco users are more likely to have sticky plaque on their teeth that is difficult to remove. The loss of hard and soft tissue around the tooth due to periodontal disease is the cause of gum recession. This type of recession is typically seen on all sides of the tooth.


Genetic factors:

Some people may be more susceptible to gingival recession due to their genetic predisposition. Their gums and the underlying bone tend to be thin, making it more prone to recession following trauma.

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. Also, when the upper teeth excessively overlap the lower teeth (deep bite), the edges of the upper teeth may traumatise the lower gums causing recession.


Other factors:

An abnormal frenum (muscle) attachment, fingernail induced trauma and improper flossing (i.e., flossing too roughly or aggressively) are also factors that can contribute to gingival recession.


How can we treat it?

There are several types of gum tissue graft procedures for covering the recession defect. The most frequently used one is called a connective tissue graft. In this procedure, a small piece of tissue is removed from the palate and then stitched to the gum tissue surrounding the exposed root. The healing is complete in a few weeks. It is possible to attain complete coverage of the root to regain aesthetics and function.


How can I prevent gum recession?

  • Here are some recommendations to help you prevent gum recession:
  • make sure your dentist or periodontist teaches you how to properly brush and floss
  • use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush gently
  • brush and floss your teeth every day
  • if your teeth are misaligned, consider orthodontic therapy 
  • monitor changes that may occur in your mouth.
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