Signs & Symptoms of Receding Gums: Causes, Treatments and Prevention

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If you’re like many people, the act of gums receding to expose a greater amount of surface area of your teeth or even your roots is a normal sign of aging that generally occurs after you reach the age of 40.

Sometimes, receding gums are the result of being a little too exuberant with your toothbrush during your youth. At other times, though, they could be the beginning of something bigger, like gum disease, that requires the attention of dental professionals.

Signs & Symptoms of Receding Gums

Most of the signs and symptoms of receding gums are visible, though if you feel tenderness along the roots of your teeth or in your gums, you might consider taking a second look at your teeth for some of the other signs and symptoms listed below:

  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding after brushing and/or flossing
  • Exposed roots
  • Long teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Red gums
  • Swelling of gums
  • Unpleasant taste in your mouth

In some cases, you may not even recognize these symptoms for what they are, but your dentist will conduct an examination during routine cleanings to look for these signs of gum recession.

Causes of Receding Gums

Like tartar, gum recession is a common problem. It often happens gradually enough that most people don’t even realize it’s happening until they notice a single tooth that looks longer than the others or begin to experience some degree of sensitivity with their gums or teeth. These are a few common causes of receding gums you might want to consider if you think your might be pulling away from your teeth.

  • Brushing too aggressively. Being a little rough while brushing and flossing your teeth can damage your gums. Even using toothbrushes that are too firm can cause your gums to pull away from your teeth over time.
  • Genetics.  Your parents play a substantial role in your dental health – and not just by encouraging healthy habits. If they have receding gums, the odds are that you will, too.
  • Grinding teeth.  Grinding teeth is to blame for a wide variety of dental health problems, including receding gums. If you are grinding your teeth when you sleep or out of habit when you aren’t sleeping, consider seeing your dentist about possible treatments to avoid receding gums along with a whole host of other dental damage that can occur as a result.
  • Hormonal changes.  Pregnancy, menopause, and other hormonal shifts in life can have a significant impact on overall health, including dental health. Your gums, in particular, seem to be vulnerable to hormonal fluctuations which can cause them to recede.
  • Inadequate dental care.  This isn’t only about brushing your teeth properly at home, but also receiving professional cleanings on a regular basis to remove tartar and plaque buildup.
  • Misaligned teeth or abnormal tooth positioning. This can lead to pressure on teeth that would not normally occur which may cause some teeth to pull away from the gums while others may not.
  • Poorly managed diabetes. Failing to get your diabetes under control and well managed can lead to a variety of dental health problems – including gum recession.
  • Tobacco use. Tobacco use is often overlooked as a generic root of all evil, but when it comes to dental health, even tobacco that isn’t smoked can present problems.
  • Traumatic injuries to the gums.  Whether to one tooth or multiple teeth, traumatic injuries to any tooth may result in gums pulling away and/or receding.

As you can see, there are many potential causes of receding gums. Fortunately, there are highly effective treatments as well.

Receding Gums Treatment

Frequently, this condition is treatable with minor treatments – particularly if it is caught in the early stages of development. Some of the minor treatments include things like

  • Becoming educated about proper tooth brushing methods.
  • Switching toothbrushes to those with softer bristles.
  • Using antimicrobial mouthwash.
  • Getting treatment of underlying conditions.
  • Scheduling more frequent professional cleaning.
  • Getting antibiotics if minor infections have set in.

Occasionally, more invasive treatments will be required to address the damage that has been done to your gums and mouth by receding gums. There are two surgical options for treating receding gums, which are typically performed by a dental surgeon or periodontist:

  1. Flap Surgery
  2. Grafting

Flap surgery helps to eliminate bacteria and tartar that may have built up within the gums and must be performed by a periodontist.

Grafting involves using synthetic particles, bones, or tissues to promote growth in the gums along the roots of your teeth but must be performed in conjunction with substantial follow-up oral care to be successful.

Preventing Receding Gums

Prevention is always the best cure. When it comes to gum recession, prevention begins with a commitment to excellent oral health and a lifetime of superior dental care. Visit your dentist often, follow his or her instructions regarding brushing, flossing, and healthy diets to avoid excessive buildups of tarter, bacteria, food particles, and more in your mouth.

Do all these things and you should be able to avoid many potential causes of receding gums or, at the very least, catch any signs of trouble early enough to avoid the need for either gum surgery.


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