Receding Gums Symptoms

The condition in which a patient’s gums pull back from the tooth surface to expose the roots of the teeth is known as receding gums.  Poor oral health can lead to the condition and often results in the loss of teeth.  While there are a variety of available treatment options, the severity of the tissue loss and how early the condition is diagnosed both plan an important role in the outcome a patient may experience.  To gain insight into this condition, we will examine the symptoms, causes, and treatment options available to patients.

Patients with receding gums may experience a number of symptoms related to their condition.  Bleeding after brushing or flossing, swollen gums, pain at the gum line, and visibly shrinking gums are typical results of receding gums.  Bad breath, exposed tooth roots, and loose or lost teeth are also common symptoms that patients should be aware of.  The condition is most common in patients 40 years or older, effects men more frequently than women, and is often misconstrued as a normal sign of aging.  It is estimated that roughly 70 percent of adult tooth loss is associated with periodontal diseases such as receding gums.  Without enough gum tissue to hold tooth roots in place, teeth are at risk of falling out and in some cases must be removed by a dentist.  Advanced gum recession often necessitates surgery in order to prevent further damage.

Receding gums can be caused by several factors.  Long term over aggressive tooth brushing, smoking or the use of chewing tobacco, buildup of tartar or plaque, and periodontal disease (gingivitis) are some of the more common causes.  A family history of gum disease, underlying medical conditions, and certain medications that cause dry mouth, can also increase the risk of having receding gums.

Medication is often the first treatment option for patients with receding gums.  If an infection is found in the gums, a dentist may prescribe antibiotics to combat the issue.  Other medications can include antiseptics, antimicrobial mouthwashes, and enzyme suppressants.  When gum recession is advanced, surgery is often used and typically takes one of two forms.  The first form is known as flap surgery and involves a deep tissue cleaning to rid the area of bacteria and tartar buildup in the gums.  A periodontist surgically lifts up the gums, performs the cleaning, and then puts the gums back in place when the procedure is over.  Grafting is the second surgical option used to restore gum tissues or the underlying bone by placing a synthetic particle or piece of bone to aid gum regrowth.

As is the case with most oral health issues, patients can reduce their risk for receding gums by adopting sound cleaning habits.  Regularly flossing and brushing your teeth and getting routine dental checkups, are amongst the best ways to mitigate any gum recession.  If a patient hasn’t yet experienced any symptoms, a dentist can spot early signs of gum disease and recommend ways to combat the condition.  The prognosis for patients with gum disease can be good but it is most successful when treated early.  If anything in your mouth feels or looks wrong, contact your dentist right away.

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