Up to half of adults between the ages of 18 and 64, as well as 88 percent of seniors, have been found to have at least mild occurrences of gingival recession, also known as receding gums. Although many consider them an inescapable aspect of aging, receding gums are neither normal nor healthy. And once they’re gone, receded gums cannot grow back. At Bunker Hill Dentistry, we can help you avoid this form of gum disease or help you restore your smile and oral health if you have gums that have receded and require treatment. What Are Receding Gums? Receding gums happen when the gum tissue around one or more teeth begins to wear or pull away, making the tooth appear longer (hence the old saying “long in the tooth”). This does more than age your appearance, however; the resulting pockets between the teeth and gum line can trap bacteria and create disease. The tooth roots also become in danger of being exposed, making them more sensitive to hot and cold or brushing. This is often the first sign of gum recession, as it typically comes on gradually. To diagnose receding gums, the dentist uses a device called a periodontal probe like a ruler in your mouth to measure the depth of your gum pockets. Healthy gums fall between 1 and 3 mm, while 4 mm begins to raise red flags, and 5+ mm qualifies as gum disease. What Causes Receding Gums? Any or all of the following factors can contribute to receding gums: Periodontal disease: Though a form of gum disease itself, receding gums’ primary cause is bacterial gum infections that destroy gum tissue. These are often caused by poor brushing and flossing habits.Using tobacco: Nicotine causes your blood vessels to constrict, reducing the blood flow to the gums, not to mention other organs, depriving them of the oxygen and nutrients they need to stay healthy.Lip or tongue piercings: The metal of the piercing rubbing against gums while talking or chewing raises your risk of developing receding gums dramatically. Crooked teeth or malocclusion: When teeth that don’t align and come together properly, undue stress is placed on the teeth, which may lead to bone loss and then tissue (gum) loss. Teeth grinding: For the same reason as malocclusion, teeth grinding or clenching can damage your gum tissue over time.Poor genetics: While typically not enough to cause receding gums on their own, if you’ve inherited thin gums from your ancestors you may be prone to developing receding gums without taking exceptional care of your mouth. Contrary to popular belief, brushing “too hard” is not a common cause of receding gums, as evidenced by the fact that recession can happen around a single tooth, with surrounding teeth unaffected. Are Your Gums Receding? Check the Symptoms You may begin to suspect gum recession if you notice your teeth appearing longer. However, it’s more likely that tooth sensitivity to cold or hot food or drinks, sweets, brushing and flossing, or dental cleanings will be the symptom that alerts you. You may also feel pain around the gum line. If your receding gums are caused by gum disease, you may experience corresponding symptoms, such as bad breath, bleeding gums, or bright red gums. If left unattended long enough, receding gums can also lead to your teeth feeling wiggly as a result of bone loss, or you may even lose teeth completely. Our Receding Gums Treatments Gum recession can be treated several different ways, the appropriate method depending on the severity of your diagnosis and what is causing it. In mild cases caused by periodontal disease, topical antibiotics may be sufficient or may be accompanied by teeth scaling and root planing, also referred to as deep cleaning. In this procedure, using local anesthetic, the dentist removes built-up plaque from the teeth and root surfaces below the gum line (scaling) and smooths the exposed root area (planing) to encourage the gums to reattach to the teeth. For a more thorough, surgical cleaning, small incisions can be made in the gums to create a flap that can be lifted (and later closed) so the roots may be accessed better. This is called flap surgery or pocket reduction surgery. Dental bonding is another non-surgical treatment that may be used. The composite resin may be tooth-colored or gum-colored and applied so as to cover exposed roots, reducing sensitivity and improving the appearance. Orthodontics may be necessary if your gum recession has been caused by misaligned teeth, but braces or Invisalign won’t correct the receding gums on their own. Gum Graft Surgery Often, some form of gum graft surgery is required to resolve the problem. There are several different types: Connective tissue or traditional graft: connective tissue from inside the roof of your mouth is taken via a small cut and stitched to the gums around the exposed root;Free gingival graft: used to reinforce thin gums, this type of graft works similarly to a traditional graft except only the top layer of skin from the roof of the mouth is used;Pedicle graft: assuming there is enough to draw from, gum tissue near the exposed tooth is pulled over or down to cover the pocket, often resulting in less discomfort than traditional graftingDonor graft: instead of you supplying the tissue, it is taken from a donor instead in cases where multiple teeth need to be treated. Bunker Hill Dentistry is proud to offer platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment to encourage faster healing after gum grafts. This cutting-edge technique takes growth factors from a small sample of your own blood and introduces them to the surgery site as an all-natural, cost-effective healing medicine. Gum Graft Surgery at Bunker Hill Dentistry Why Bunker Hill Dentistry? Dr. Le and his wife and office manager Ann Le Specialists – From knowledgeable prevention methods to skillful surgery techniques, our team is highly proficient in treating receding gums. Serene setting – Our office is designed to provide a calm, relaxing environment to help put your mind at ease during treatment. Take a tour. Client satisfaction – We have one mission – total client satisfaction. “Care, Comfort, Convenience”is our guarantee to every client. More about Bunker Hill Dentistry. Reception room at Bunker Hill Dentistry State of the art – We utilize other advanced technology such as the i-CAT 3D x-ray machine, All-On-4® implants and an anesthesia-delivery wand, for faster and more accurate diagnosis and treatment. Conveniently located – Located in Memorial, just a short drive from Houston’s city center. Find us on the map. How to Avoid Getting Receding Gums Brushing twice per day and flossing once will ward off many kinds of oral problems, and receding gums is no exception. If you have misaligned teeth or are teeth grinding, talk to the dentist about getting a mouthguard or braces. Other actions that can keep gums from receding include: Stopping smoking and limiting alcohol intake.Skipping mouth piercings.Eating a healthy diet. Treat Gum Recession at Bunker Hill Dentistry If you’re past the point where prevention is possible, don’t ignore the warning signs of receding gums as they can lead to bone loss and even tooth loss if left unchecked. Schedule An Appointment Not been to Bunker Hill Dentistry before? To help you prepare for your first visit, read our new patient information page.