Gum recession is a condition in which gums lower below the level they used to hold. Gums will separate from the teeth, creating gaps in which bacteria and plaque accumulate, further worsening the situation. Since more of the vulnerable tooth structure is exposed, its first symptom is hypersensitivity to cold drinks and foods. This problem is quite common but happens gradually, so more often than not it is ignored until the person experiences sharp sudden pain. If you scratch the side of your tooth with a clean fingernail and feel a notch, then you might have gum recession.
Though there is always some combination of factors, the most common causes for gum recession are:
– Brushing the teeth too aggressively, which damages the enamel
– Periodontal disease due to lack of dental care
– Piercing on the tongue, mouth or lip that irritates the gums
– Placing too much force on teeth, such as during involuntary grinding or when they are misaligned
– Hormonal changes that happen with old age or unrelated conditions
– Genetic, as almost 30% of the US population is predisposed to have gum recession because they inherited fragile gum tissue
– Periodic presence of the stomach acid, which happens during self-induced vomiting
– Scurvy, the lack of vitamin C
Treatment includes diagnosing which of these causes is the primary factor in gum recession and eliminating it before the gums are restored to their original position. Until recently, the only solution for gum recession was a painful and complicated gum grafting surgery, which would take tissue from another area in the patient’s mouth, usually the palate, and transplant it onto the exposed roots. The problem with this approach is that it creates two wounds that need to heal, thus effectively doubling the recovery time.
Today, we use a special technique called “pinhole surgery”. During it, a tiny hole is made in the tissue near the spot affected with gum recession and a special instrument is inserted in that hole to loosen and stretch the gingival mass. Because pinhole surgery doesn’t involve cutting of the gums, there is almost no bleeding, pain or discomfort and the recovery time is minimal. Caring for the health of your oral cavity is a lifetime job that requires constant vigilance. You don’t have to do it all by yourself! Schedule an appointment at my office and I will gladly help you get and maintain that perfect smile you always dreamed of.