Why Are My Gums Receding?

Receding Gums Seattle

Gum recession doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual process in which the gum tissue around the teeth wears away. Eventually, you’ll notice that teeth appear longer, and their roots are more visible. While gum recession is common in adults over 65, it can affect much younger patients. While lost gums cannot grow back, prompt intervention can prevent further recession. The team at Pacific Northwest Periodontics discusses what causes gum recession and various treatment options.

Gum Recession Symptoms

Increased tooth sensitivity is an early indication of gum recession, due to tooth root exposure. You may experience gum tenderness or bleeding after brushing or flossing.

Other, more visible, gum recession symptoms include:

  • Longer teeth – A receding gumline makes your teeth appear longer.
  • Loose teeth – With periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth. Bone loss results in loose teeth or even teeth that fall out.
  • Root exposure – The gums are pulling away from the surface of the tooth, causing more root exposure.

Gum Recession Causes

Periodontal disease is a major cause of gum recession. This infection of the gums results from bacteria causing inflammation. The bacteria form plaque, a sticky film that can harden into tartar. Such a build-up may spread beneath the gumline.

If untreated, a more severe form of the disease, called periodontitis, may occur. This is the stage at which teeth may become loose and fall out.

Other gum recession causes include:

  • Aggressive brushing
  • Diabetes
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Genetically thin gum tissue
  • Gum injury
  • Smoking
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Lip and tongue piercings 
  • Teeth grinding or clenching

Anyone who had braces or other orthodontic treatments is more vulnerable to developing recessed gums. In women, hormonal changes such as those that occur during pregnancy can exacerbate gum recession.

Gum Recession Treatment

Treatment depends on the reason for the recessed gums. At the earliest stages, scaling and root planing should help. This involves a deep cleaning to remove plaque and tartar from the affected area, followed by smoothing of the roots. Antibiotic therapy is often prescribed to kill the remaining bacteria.

When gum recession progresses significantly, gum surgery may prove necessary. If a great deal of gum tissue is lost, a gum graft can cover exposed roots. This surgery involves taking tissue from the roof of the mouth or another part of the gums and using it to cover the root.     

Contact the Team at Pacific Northwest Periodontics

Regular dental checkups can identify gum disease at the outset. The experienced team at Pacific Northwest Periodontics is led by Dr. Darrin Rapoport. If you are noticing gum recession symptoms, call 206-575-1086 or contact us today to schedule a consultation with our team.

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