The Causes and Treatments of Receding Gums

Receding gums are a relatively common problem affecting many adults over the age of 40, although the problem may start during a person’s teenage years. The causes are numerous. Determining a cause helps the dentist determine the appropriate treatment.

Either poor dental hygiene or overly aggressive brushing may be the cause. It might be difficult to understand how the two extremes could cause the same problem. Here’s a simple explanation.

Poor dental hygiene can cause the problem because of a buildup of bacteria between the teeth, which basically sets the stage for gum disease. Inadequate cleaning may also lead to a buildup of plaque, which pushes the gum-line upward.

Gum disease or gingivitis is not always present. When gingivitis is present, poor dental hygiene is the usual suspect. The dentist may instruct the patient about brushing and flossing techniques or recommend regular in-office cleanings. A process called scaling may also be used if a build-up of tartar seems to be the cause.

Overly aggressive brushing gradually wears away the delicate gum tissue. Some people use a toothbrush that is too firm, or the brushing technique used could be the problem. Brushing back and forth with a firm toothbrush can wear away at the gum line.

Another cause of receding gums is sensitivity to an ingredient commonly found in toothpastes. The ingredient is sodium laurel sulfate. It is also a cause of skin irritation. Chronic irritation of the gum tissue may cause the tissues to recede over time.

Anything that causes chronic irritation may be the underlying cause. For example, dentists have found that the problem is more common among people with lip or tongue piercings, because the jewelry constantly rubs on the gum.

Other causes of gum line falling back include dipping tobacco, grinding the teeth, an incorrect bite and eating disorders. There are also hereditary or genetic issues. For example, the gingival tissue may be naturally thin and fragile.

Regardless of the cause, your dentist will recommend a treatment. As a last resort, it is possible to use soft-tissue graft surgery to create more gingival tissue. The grafts may be natural or synthetic.

Research is ongoing in the area of using the patient’s own stem cells to grow more gum tissue in the laboratory. This would overcome the problem of tissue rejection.

In other words, there are several treatments for receding gums and more are currently being developed. If you have the problem, don’t delay. See your dentist today.