What are the treatment options for gum recession?

Your treatment options depend on the type and severity of your gum recession. For instance, gum recession caused by excessive or aggressive brushing can be helped with improved oral hygiene techniques. Surgical treatments also can help, such as grafts that attach gum tissue from one part of your mouth to the exposed area.
First I find the cause and type of recession. Although toothbrush recession from overzealous brushing is "recession”, I like the term "abrasion" instead. This type of recession is caused by well-intentioned brushers abrading away their gum tissue. It results in cold and sweet sensitivity, and appears unaesthetic as the gum seems to drop away from the tooth revealing the natural yellow root structure underneath.

This can be restored with surgery to graft tissue from the hard palate, can be repaired with tissue moved from an area next to the abraded tooth, or covered with a tooth colored bonding material to improve esthetics and reduce sensitivity. The use of fluorides and desensitizing toothpaste can reduce thermal sensitivity, but most of all the patient must be instructed in proper brushing technique before any surgery attempt will have long term success. Proper technique alone can reduce sensitivity.

Recession can also occur from periodontal disease resulting in pockets retaining plaque and bacteria and further propagating the recession and gum disease. This is best treated by deep cleaning, removing all plaque and debris. If there is minimal pocket depth, the resultant decreased swelling after cleaning can reduce or eliminate the need for surgery. There are antimicrobial rinses and medications to help, if necessary, but surgery to eliminate the pockets may be necessary to eliminate the pockets if necessary.

The majority of recession conversations in my office center around abrasion, and grafting is the last option explored, always after the brushing habit is broken. Some dental professionals believe a certain thickness of attached gum tissue in necessary to prevent future deterioration, but some professionals think problems will not occur if the habit is stopped. The esthetic problem from recession can be relieved with bonding and sensitivity can also be is diminished with this material.

Always expect a complete explanation of your problem, and request a second opinion if an explanation seems incomplete to you. Determine which type of recession you have (I have only described the main two), and all treatment options available to treat that problem. Always consider a second opinion -- I always encourage it.

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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.