Can gum recession be treated?

Todd A. Welch, DMD
Recent advances in periodontal plastic surgery techniques, such as periodontal regeneration, root coverage procedures with gum graft surgery have significantly improved the ability to restore damaged periodontal (gum) tissues. Early diagnosis is critical to periodontal disease management and offers a patient the best chance of preserving their natural teeth.
Gum recession, when the gums shrink or pull away from the teeth, can happen to people of all ages. Sometimes it happens even if a person takes good care of his or her teeth. Gum recession can cause problems for your oral health.

If you have gum recession, your dentist can help you understand the causes and recommend a treatment. If the gums have become unattached from the tooth, it is important to treat gum recession otherwise it is likely to get worse.
  • If your gum recession is due to brushing too hard, your dentist can show you a better way to clean your teeth.
  • If the recession is due to gum disease, the first step usually involves a special cleaning called scaling and root planing, which removes plaque and tartar deposits on the tooth and root surfaces. The scaling and root planing helps gum tissues heal. For many patients, this treatment, plus excellent oral care with regular dental checkups, can help stop periodontal disease and gum loss.
  • If the recession is advanced, a gum graft may be needed. A graft is when a thin piece of gum tissue is taken from another place in the patient's mouth and attached to the place where the gum tissue has receded. Once the graft heals, it covers the exposed tooth root. Tissue grafts may be done to protect one tooth or several teeth. Grafts protect the tooth root from sensitivity and decay and can also be used to make a smile look better. If you have a gum graft, your dentist will tell you how to care for your gums.
Gum recession is irreversible. If your gum recession is caused by overzealous brushing, you may be able to prevent further recession by brushing your teeth less aggressively. If it is caused by periodontitis, you may be able to prevent further gum recession by professional periodontal treatment and practicing better oral hygiene. Most dentists recommend brushing your teeth gently with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing once a day as well. Whatever the suspected cause, you should have the condition properly diagnosed by a dentist who can also provide guidance and advice on how to preven further damage. If your gum recession is severe, you may require a grafting procedure to correct it. This involves removing tissue from the top of your mouth and reattaching it where your gums have receded. In most cases, this procedure will prevent any further complications caused by gum recession.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.