What are the treatment options for receding gums?

Jonathan H. Ross, DDS
You should see a periodontist when you have questions about receding gums. A periodontist has 3 years of additional training in diagnosing and treating diseases of the gums. He/she will perform a thorough oral and periodontal examination. If you have a periodontal inflammatory disease (e.g., gingivitis or periodontitis), it should be taken care of before treating the recession.

The periodontist will also decide whether there is recession or if the neighboring teeth just have not fully erupted or the longer tooth is more prominent in the arch due to tipping. There is also a possibility that the patient wore away the enamel of the tooth into the dentin. These conditions cannot be treated with grafting procedures. They may need crown lengthening, braces or fillings.

If the periodontist diagnoses recession, he/she will assess the tissue between the teeth with roots showing. If you have lost the papilla (do you see a "black triangle" between the teeth?), a graft may not completely cover the root. If the spaces between teeth are fully filled with pink gum tissue, it is likely the roots will be covered 100%.

The types of ways periodontists graft over these roots include: connective tissue grafts, free gingival grafts (both harvest tissue from your palate), human dermal allografts (donated and processed tissue), or guided tissue regeneration (using a cell-occlusive barrier and other biological materials).
The treatment options for receding gums (gum tissue that pulls away from the teeth because of severe periodontitis) include:
  • Deep cleaning through scaling and root planing to remove plaque and get rid of rough spots on the tooth roots.
  • Gum flap surgery to lift back the gums and remove tartar. The gums are then sutured in place to fit snugly around the tooth.
  • Bone and tissue grafts to replace tissue destroyed by periodontitis.
The best options for you will depend on how severe your gum disease is and any other health problems you may have.
There are generally two options to treat receding gums. Surgically by a periodontist as mentioned in other posts, or restoratively to cover the roots. Depending what has caused the recession, the options may be narrowed down, and sometimes no treatment is a good treatment, especially if the recession has not gotten worse and is not due to gum disease. For example crowded teeth can cause gum recession, and if it is a slight amount and the gums are healthy, you may choose to monitor it. Your dentist can help you determine your options.

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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.