For some people gum recession is unavoidable and due to factors beyond their control; for example purely due to naturally thinner tissues around the teeth, prominent roots or previously completed orthodontic treatment.
For a larger number of us, however, recession is most commonly due to gum disease which results in the loss of supportive structures around the teeth. If you see recession around the majority of your teeth it is likely to be associated with more advanced gum disease, known as periodontal disease. Often the recession is actually worse after the gum disease has been treated. This is because following periodontal debridement (by a dental professional as part of periodontal treatment) and an improvement in oral hygiene the gums often shrink back and tighten around the root surfaces as they heal.
The best way to treat gum recession is by prevention, at Ock Street Clinic we are dedicated to prevention of gum disease and recession by regular treatment with our team of dental hygienists, and providing you with all the necessary dental treatment to prevent damage from grinding or malocclusion.
We offer the services of Richard Snoad, Specialist in Periodontics, in our practice who is very experienced in the treatment of gum disease. His treatment protocol is a much gentler technique than more traditional scaling approaches. This can help to minimise the amount of recession that may arise after gum disease treatment. Our hygienists at the practice also follow gentler protocols.
Cosmetic - Gum recession causes the gums to recede and expose the roots of the teeth, so the gum line can look unnatural and the roots of teeth can appear dark and misshapen. The bad news is that once recession is present, regardless of its cause, it is very difficult to reverse. Gum surgery can be carried out in severe cases. TIP: The good news is that we can disguise the gum line using a pink dental material placed over root surfaces to improve the appearance, and we can make the tooth roots look much more natural with our cosmetic composite filings (see illustrations below).
Sensitivity - The exposed root surface can be much more sensitive to hot and cold temperature changes. TIP: Use a sensitive toothpaste. Avoid rinsing the toothpaste off after brushing. You can also apply the paste as a cream before bed to your teeth.
Root Caries (Decay) - If the roots of your teeth are exposed there is a heightened risk of decay on the root surface which is much more likely to infect the nerve inside the tooth and require more extensive treatment. TIP: Maximise your fluoride exposure to the root surfaces. When brushing your teeth leave your toothpaste on your teeth (only spit out your toothpaste, do not rinse your mouth after brushing) and use a fluoride mouthwash in between brushing sessions. Your dentist and hygienist can help you to create a preventative cleaning regime that meets your specific needs.
Gum Disease - TIP: Visit the hygienist regularly who can help prevent and treat gum disease. Excellent oral hygiene, with thorough but gentle plaque removal.
Overzealous brushing - TIP: Avoid hard bristle brushes and avoid “scrubbing” the teeth. Ideally use a brush with medium bristles and rounded ends eg. Sensodyne or Oral B. Use a gentle massaging motion with bristles pointing at a 45 degree angle towards the gum lines or even better - use an electric oscillating or rotating toothbrush eg. Oral B Braun. Ask your hygienist to demonstrate the correct brushing technique with your brush at your next appointment.
Clenching/Grinding - TIP: Clenching and grinding your teeth can not only cause recession but can also cause the teeth to become loose. A night guard or Tanner appliance can be made by your dentist to relieve the symptoms of clenching and prevent gum damage.
Crooked teeth/Malaligned bite - TIP: have your teeth straightened or your bite corrected early to prevent recession from occurring. We have an Orthodontist who can offer a number of different options for you.
Acknowledgement: The illustrations of gum recession and treatment were provided by dentist and dental photographer Tom Heidari