Receding gums is when the gums pull away from the teeth, creating pockets at the base of the teeth and exposing the tooth root. As well as causing tender red gums that frequently bleed, the pockets trap food and bacteria, heightening the problem of gum disease. If left untreated, the teeth become loose, bone is lost and the teeth eventually fall out.
What Causes Receding Gums?
There are a number of causes of receding gums but the most common cause is poor dental health. If you do not clean your teeth thoroughly night and morning, including flossing between the teeth, plaque and tartar (calculus) will build up. These substances harbor bacteria which lead to inflammation, gingivitis (gum disease) and periodontal disease. These all cause poor dental health, bad breath, receding gums and even increase the risk of heart disease.
Some people are more predisposed to gum disease due to their genetic makeup, giving them a higher risk of receding gums. Too vigorous teeth cleaning with a hard brush can actually erode tooth enamel over time, allowing the gums to recede. Gums can also be more prone to problems when hormonal changes are taking place; during puberty, pregnancy and the menopause.
Smoking causes sticky plaque to coat the teeth which can lead to receding gums; while grinding the teeth, misaligned bite, or tongue piercing can all chafe and irritate gum tissue causing it to recede.
How to Reverse Receding Gums
Treatment to allow receding gums to grow back must first tackle the cause of the problem. In the case of bacterial infection and gum disease, starting a more thorough cleaning regimen including flossing and antibacterial mouthwash can offer some help.
If your teeth have a build-up of hard tartar, you need a deep cleaning process which is performed under local anesthetic by a dental specialist. The tartar is chipped away above and below the gumline, removing the source of the bacteria. Antibiotics may be used to kill off any remaining infection.
If bone loss has already occurred due to severe periodontal disease, surgery may be required to perform pocket depth reduction or insert regenerative material as a graft to regenerate bone and tissue. In the most severe cases of receding gums, a soft tissue graft may be required.
An Ayurvedic dental remedy called oil pulling has been shown to be helpful for dental health. Using oil such as sesame, coconut or grape seed can help remove bacteria and help heal the gums.
How to Avoid Receding Gums
Receding gums are caused or worsened by poor oral hygiene. It’s so easy to avoid this serious health problem by brushing and flossing teeth thoroughly twice a day. Book regular checkups and teeth cleaning with your dental professional. If you do eat sugary treats, make sure you clean your teeth afterwards to remove the residue before it has chance to cause a problem.