Receding gums: causes and solutions

Receding gums are a fairly common problem for patients at dental clinics such as Vélez y Lozano, which is why we are used to treating them and offering solutions to improve their quality of life and try to mitigate the discomfort they suffer. 

One of the most common discomforts associated with receding gums is tooth sensitivity, which occurs because the root of the tooth, which is a very sensitive area, is more exposed than usual, causing sensitivity to certain foods and causing pain during brushing, which often leads to problems associated with poor hygiene (in the end the patient brushes less thoroughly or efficiently and plaque builds up, leading to disease).

Another of the most common complaints of patients who come to the clinic with receding gums is aesthetic, as it causes the teeth to appear longer than normal, thus damaging the smile. 

Causes of receding gums

The causes of receding gums are numerous, but the following always stand out:

  1. Periodontal disease. Periodontitis is a gum disease that causes loss of bone and gum around the teeth. This destruction of the supporting tissues of the teeth causes, in the early stages of the disease, gum recession. If this pathology progresses, it can lead to tooth mobility and tooth loss.
  2. Dental abrasion. Caused by incorrect toothbrushing. It can be caused by using a very aggressive brushing technique or by using very hard toothbrushes. Eco-friendly fibre toothbrushes can be particularly harmful as some of the materials used, such as beaver hair, are more abrasive than conventional toothbrushes.
  3. Bruxism. This problem, which is so common in today's society, causes both wear on the tooth surface and gum recession. Although this may seem strange and difficult for the patient to understand, it is due to the fact that constant clenching of the teeth during sleep generates tensions that are transmitted to the neck of the tooth, which causes enamel layers to come off, leaving the junction between the tooth and the gum unprotected. 

Solutions for receding gums

Gums do not regenerate by themselves, so if we want to recover their appearance before the recession occurred, we must put ourselves in the hands of a dentist who specialises in gums: the periodontist. 

The first thing the specialist must do is identify the specific cause of the receding gums and try to stop the process. Once these causes have been identified and controlled, there are effective treatments to restore lost gums through minimally invasive surgery that only require local anaesthesia. 

The most common techniques in this regard are: 

  • Gum grafts:  This technique uses a fragment of gum from the patient's own palate and places it over the receding area to replace the lost gum. This fragment acts as a scaffolding for the patient's own defences to regenerate the lost gum. Sometimes synthetic tissue grafts can also be used. 
  • Coronally displaced flapThis technique consists of 'stretching' the gum itself to cover recessed areas. The tissue is carefully detached from its current position and repositioned a few millimetres above, so that it better covers the root surface. 

Both surgeries are very minimally invasive for the patient, who usually has a very good recovery. Although the 100% cover is not always achieved, the result is quite satisfactory and improves both the health and aesthetic discomfort mentioned above. 

Postoperative care of operations

  • Do not eat or drink anything hot for the first 24 hours after the operation.
  • Take the medication prescribed by the doctor. Anti-inflammatories and painkillers are usually sufficient, but sometimes we also recommend antibiotics, if necessary.
  • Do not touch the surgical site. Keep the area clean without using a toothbrush until instructed otherwise by the doctor. 
  • No smoking. Mainly the first 48 hours after surgery.
  • Eat soft or semi-soft food for the first few days.
  • Rinse with 0.12% chlorhexidine twice daily for 7 days.

If you have a problem with receding gums and you need expert advice, you can contact the Vélez y Lozano Dental Clinic in Murcia, where we will be happy to help you, advise you and, if necessary, treat you. 

You can do so through our usual channels on 968 28 46 28 or now also via WhatsApp at 641 60 88 32.

Author: Dr. Francisco Sánchez-Alcaraz