What to do about Receding Gums?

Are your gums wearing away? Receding Gums, also known as gingival recession, occurs for a variety of reasons, including brushing your teeth too hard, grinding your teeth, neglecting your oral health, failing to address unaligned teeth, and making unhealthy lifestyle choices. Not only are receding gums not very attractive, but they leave your teeth unprotected, potentially causing more severe problems. If you’ve noticed a change in your gums, know you can still correct the issue. 

How do I know that I have Receding Gums?

Receding gums occur when the gum tissue that surrounds and supports the teeth pulls back or wears away, exposing more of the tooth or its root. If left untreated, this can lead to tooth sensitivity, decay, and even tooth loss. Addressing receding gums immediately is essential to prevent further damage and potential tooth loss.

The way to identify receding gums is by looking at the gum tissue surrounding each tooth. If the height of the gum tissue varies or if you see that the gum tissue surrounding the teeth draws back and seems red or worn away, then you are looking at receding gums.

The most apparent sign of gum recession is tooth root exposure. Other gum recession warning signs include:

  1. Pain or discomfort near your gum line.
  2. Sensitivity to heat, cold, and sweets.
  3. Sensitivity when brushing and flossing your teeth.
  4. Sensitivity during dental cleanings.


Why are receding gums a problem?

Left untreated, gum recession can lead to other serious oral health problems, such as bone loss, tooth mobility, or teeth feeling loose. You could even lose a tooth because of it. If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately.

  1. Pain and sensitivity: When the roots of the teeth become exposed, they can be sensitive to hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and drinks. This can cause discomfort or pain, making it difficult to eat and drink comfortably.
  2. Increased risk of cavities: The exposed tooth roots are not protected by the hard enamel covering that protects the crown of the tooth. This makes them more susceptible to decay and cavities.
  3. Gum disease: Receding gums can make it easier for bacteria to accumulate between the teeth and gums, leading to gum disease. This can cause inflammation, bleeding gums, and eventually tooth loss.
  4. Impact on your smile: Receding gums can also make teeth appear longer, which can affect the appearance of your smile and lead to self-consciousness.

What causes Recession of Gums?

Your gums may recede for several reasons. Gum recession causes include:

  1. Dental plaque or tartar buildup.
  2. Brushing too hard or too aggressively.
  3. Periodontal disease.
  4. Trauma to your gum tissue.
  5. Misalignment of teeth.
  6. Smoking or chewing tobacco use.
  7. Lip and tongue piercings.

Can you reverse Gum Recession?

Good news! Gum recession is not reversible but can be treated. If identified and treated early, your smile can be saved. And Dr. Wheatley and his team offer several of these treatments at our office.

  • Tooth Scaling/Root Planing: If you have mild gum recession, our hygienist may deep clean the area in a procedure known as tooth scaling or root planing. This will remove plaque and tartar on the exposed tooth section and below the gum line. In addition, your dentist may carefully remove the gum line and smooth the exposed tooth root to discourage bacteria build-up.
  • Open Flap Tooth Scaling/Root Planing: If calculus has formed deeply in pockets caused by gum recession, your dentist or periodontist may choose to fold back the affected gum tissue in an “open flap” procedure. Then, harmful bacteria are removed during a deep cleaning treatment. The jaw bone may be reshaped to prevent the formation of pockets. Afterward, the gum tissue is secured in place, snug against the tooth to eliminate (or reduce the size of) pockets.
  • Regeneration: Has your jaw bone been destroyed due to gum recession? In this case, your dentist or periodontist may wish to regenerate lost bone and gum tissue. First, your gum will be folded back so bacteria can be cleaned. Then a regenerative material (such as graft tissue or tissue-stimulating protein) will be applied to encourage your body to naturally regenerate bone and tissue in the affected area. Afterward, the gum tissue will be secured against the teeth.
  • Gum Tissue Graft: During this surgical procedure, your dentist or periodontist will remove gum tissue from one area (such as the top of your mouth) and transfer it to cover the exposed tooth roots. The procedure also involves a deep cleaning to remove bacteria and debris from your teeth before the new tissue is attached. Several gum graft procedures are available; your dentist or periodontist can determine the best type for your needs.
  • Pinhole Surgery: A new, innovative option is called pinhole surgery. This minimally invasive procedure creates a small pinhole above the receding gum area. Then, a special instrument is inserted through the hole to elevate the gum and pull it down over the exposed root. Collagen strips are placed under the gum to keep it in place and promote healing. This is a quick procedure that produces immediate, dramatic results.

It is important to remember that while these treatments address many issues, you still may have to address the issues that caused the problem in the first place.

You can prevent further damage

While it’s frustrating that gum recession is not reversible, it is comforting to know that you can avoid further damage. Focus on preserving your gums and keeping them in good health. You don’t need to do anything special. Simply follow these no-nonsense tips:

  1. Practice good oral hygiene: Brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and using an antiseptic mouthwash can help remove plaque and bacteria contributing to gum recession.
  2. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush: Hard-bristled toothbrushes can damage your gums and lead to further recession. Opt for a soft-bristled brush and brush gently.
  3. Change your brushing technique: Instead of brushing in a circular motion, use a gentle back-and-forth motion, focusing on the gum line.
  4. Manage underlying conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, can increase your risk of gum recession. Make sure to manage any underlying health conditions.
  5. Stop smoking: Smoking can contribute to gum recession and other oral health problems. Quitting smoking can improve your oral health and reduce your risk of gum recession.
  6. Consider dental products: Certain dental products, such as desensitizing toothpaste or fluoride treatments, can help alleviate tooth sensitivity caused by gum recession.
  7. Eat a well-balanced diet.
  8. Schedule your regular check-ups and cleanings: Dr. Wheatley can assess the extent of your gum recession and recommend appropriate treatment options. This may include deep cleaning, scaling, and root planing, or gum surgery.

If you are concerned about receding gums, schedule your next appointment at our Norman dental office today. Call 405-857-6453.