Gum tissue inside the mouth provides vital functions, including serving as a protective shield for the roots of our teeth. Healthy gums extend all the way up to the base of the teeth, reaching the edge of the armor-like enamel that covers the exposed surfaces of these natural chewing tools. However, under some circumstances, the gums can pull away from the base of the enamel, exposing the soft tooth material, called dentin, to the air with no protective “lacquering” of enamel in between. Known as gum recession, this has serious consequences for the health and longevity of your teeth if left untreated. If you have been experiencing symptoms of gum recession, seek treatment right away. We provide many solutions for gum recession at our Glen Ellyn, IL office and provide personalized treatment to reduce tooth sensitivity and restore the health of your gums and smile.
Gum recession, like most other things, it occurs in response to known factors. If these factors are present in a dental patient, they are a good indication that gum recession may be, or already has been triggered. Poor toothbrush use is the most frequent cause of gum recession. Excessively vigorous brushing, stiff bristles on the toothbrush, or abrasive toothpaste can all be culprits in sending your gums into retreat or worsening an existing condition. Another very common trigger for gum recession is bruxism, the clenching and grinding of teeth at night during the delta phase of sleep. This causes the teeth to grow weaker along the gumline, setting the stage for recession. Periodontal disease, or ailing gums, is a major cause of gums receding since the gums shrink back as they are progressively damaged by this infection. In some cases, genetics are the cause of receding gums.
Extremely sensitive, potentially painful teeth and gums. Though enamel is inert and has no feeling, dentin is quite a bit different. Microscopic tubules run through it and contain living cells and nerve tissue. These extend up to the surface, making the dentin painfully sensitive when not protected by gum tissues.
Dentin is soft and does not have the toughness and durability of enamel. The wear and tear of oral use can easily carve grooves into the exposed root surfaces, badly damaging the teeth and causing additional problems such as sensitive teeth, bad breath, and tooth loss.
Soft dentin is vulnerable to decay. People tend to avoid brushing exposed roots because the contact of bristles and the live tooth surface is painful. Thus, bacteria and debris accumulate right where they are most likely to produce decay. Even partial failure to brush thoroughly can raise the decay risk greatly, while vigorous brushing may damage the dentin mechanically.
Teeth appear to be “long” and have a yellow appearance at the gum line area (the exposed tooth root).
In many cases, gum recession can be dealt with by switching dental products. We can give you solid, science-based advice on which toothpaste and brush to use in order to halt the retreat of your gums. If more serious recession has occurred, we may recommend gum grafting or other specialized techniques to restore proper tissue coverage of your teeth. With each situation unique, we can create your personalized treatment plan after a consultation with either Dr. Thomas or Dr. Jessica Gibbs.
Desensitizing toothpaste is helpful if the roots are exposed enough to make brushing unpleasant or painful. In no case should people with exposed roots use tartar control toothpaste or those with abrasives, which will exacerbate the problems and be uncomfortable.
To increase your comfort when your gums are receding, avoiding acidic foods and drinks may be a prudent step, including citrus, yogurt, apple juice, and wine. If you do eat acidic food, you should brush your teeth prior to consuming them. Brushing immediately afterward may cause problems and discomfort. Similarly, many types of commercial mouthwash increase gum sensitivity of exposed roots. Cold liquids and foods (chilled drinks, ice cream, etc.) may hurt these roots, too.
Every six months, you can receive a fluoride treatment, which will lower the sensitivity of the exposed roots and greatly lessen the risk that decay will take hold.
In cases where the roots are extremely tender, we can coat the root surface with a transparent desensitizing fluid which soaks into the dentin and creates a protective layer atop it. Colored restorative agents are available for extraordinary cases where such a treatment is deemed appropriate. Occasionally even a dental laser can be utilized to seal the root surface!
For extreme cases of gum recession, gum grafting may be the best option. We take gum tissue from inside your mouth or a donor source and place it at the site of recession. Sutured in place and left to heal, this new tissue will fuse with your existing gums, often creating a thicker and stronger tissue layer than before! For surgery-adverse patients, we provide a specialized technique that uses dental tools to gently repositions gum tissue back over the teeth, eliminating the need for scalpels, incisions, or multiple surgical sites.