Gum Recession and Root Exposure

Front tooth before treatment
Front tooth after treatment

Before and After Soft Tissue Grafting

What is Gum Recession?

Gingival (gum) recession is a condition in which the margin of the gums surrounding the teeth begin to pull back, exposing more of the tooth’s root structure. It is a very common condition for adults, especially those over the age of 40.

Although gum recession can be quite common, it should be taken seriously. It can cause a number of problems including tooth decay, sensitivity, a compromised appearance, bone loss, and even possible tooth loss. Often times, recession can occur due to overly aggressive tooth brushing, periodontal disease, genetics, teeth grinding or clenching, and even tongue jewelry.

Exposed tooth roots are most commonly caused by receding gums or gum disease. This root surface can be sensitive to cold, hot and sweets. It can also be an esthetic problem. When gum recession is a problem, gum reconstruction using grafting techniques is an option.

Gum recession is a condition that occurs gradually. It is often referred to as becoming ‘long in the tooth’. Many times it goes unrecognized or untreated until the teeth become sensitive or the smile begins to look less attractive. Luckily, there are several ways to treat gingival recession.

What Causes Gum Recession?

  • Overly aggressive brushing or flossing. It's great to be enthusiastic about oral care, but you should make sure that you're brushing, not scrubbing! Always use a soft or extra soft toothbrush. Be gentle on your teeth, and remember that taking care of them isn't supposed to hurt.
  • Genetics. Your gums' characteristics are determined by your genetics, just as the rest of your body is. If one or both of your parents have gum recession, you're at a higher risk for receding gums.
  • Prominent tooth roots or muscle attachments that can push gums out of place.
  • Grinding your teeth, or bruxism. Do you often wake up with a headache? Does your spouse or partner complain that you grind your teeth? This habit can be the cause of many dental maladies, not just gum recession, so let your dentist know right away if you think you are grinding your teeth. Teeth grinding can be treated easily and painlessly with a mouth guard and several other options.
  • Trauma to gum tissue. The gum tissue may recede when a traumatic injury has occurred on a tooth or teeth.
  • Partial dentures that do not fit correctly.
  • Poor oral health. If your oral health habits are questionable, gum recession may be a result of periodontitis.

How Is Gum Recession Treated?

A new technique called the Pinhole Surgical Technique can successfully treat gingival recession. This technique is a sophisticated way to move receding gingiva back into place without grafting surgery. It provides adequate root coverage and generally doesn’t require any cutting, stitching, or downtime following the procedure.

Many people choose to treat gum recession with a connective tissue graft procedure. This is where your own connective tissue is taken from the side of the palate (roof of the mouth) and used to cover the area of recession. Another treatment option involves using allograft material such as Alloderm™ or Perioderm™ which are freeze-dried donor tissue to cover the areas of recession. An allograft eliminates the need to involve the palate making it less invasive.

Gingival recession is best treated early. If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity or have noticed your teeth looking longer, you should contact a Dr. Wiland to have it treated before the condition worsens.

About Us

Bruce B. Wiland, DDS, MSD is board certified in the specialty of periodontics which includes the placement of dental implants. Other services include laser periodontal therapy, esthetic tissue contouring and nonsurgical treatment.

Sedation is always available to relieve apprehension.

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