Receding gums cannot grow back, although you can slow down the progression of the condition. Surgeries may restore the lost gum tissue to an extent.
With gum recession, the soft tissue around the roots of the teeth are pulled back, exposing the delicate roots. This can lead to tooth sensitivity and increase the risk of infection, which can eventually cause bone loss.
What causes gum recession?
- Periodontal disease: Infection and inflammation of gums caused by plaque on the teeth. Periodontal disease is caused by poor oral hygiene, hormonal changes, dry mouth, stress, bad dental fillings, dentures that do not fit properly, and tobacco use. Diabetes mellitus and chronic high blood pressure can also contribute to gum disease. Periodontal disease has two stages:
- Injury: Direct injury to the gums can cause receding gums (falls, dental procedures, ill-fitting dentures)
- Over-brushing: Incorrect brushing or brushing with excessive pressure may cause inflammation of the gums, which can lead to gum recession.
6 ways to treat receding gums
Gums that have receded do not grow back, so it is very important to eliminate and treat the risk factors that lead to gum recession and maintain good oral hygiene. You can stop or slow down gum recession during the early stages:
- Gentle brushing: Regular brushing and flossing with a soft-bristled brush twice a day can help maintain overall oral health. Avoid brushing too hard as this can wear down enamel and worsen gum recession.
- Oil pulling: Oil pulling can remove plaque and maintain the cleanliness of the oral cavity. This method involves swishing oil (coconut, sesame, etc.) in the mouth for a few minutes, spitting it out, rinsing, and then brushing. When done properly, it can remove plaque buildup and reduce gum inflammation.
- Saltwater rinse: Rinsing the mouth with a saltwater mixture made of one cup of warm water and a teaspoon of salt for a few minutes may help kill bacteria in the mouth and reduce gum inflammation.
- Essential oils: Essential oils have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antibiotic effects and may help gum recession when applied to the gums. Essential oils for this use include tea tree, peppermint, thyme, and eucalyptus.
- Aloe vera: Aloe vera has many anti-inflammatory properties. Some people advocate using a technique where aloe vera is injected into the gums, but this should only be done if necessary and only by a trained dentist.
- Green tea: Green tea has antimicrobial properties, and it is believed that green tea may kill bacteria that can cause gum infections and inflammation, which eventually leads to gum recession.
What surgeries can reverse gum recession?
- Flap surgery: A small incision is made and a part of the gum tissue is lifted to clean the area thoroughly and eliminate all bacteria. Once the area is cleaned, the gum is placed back in its position. This procedure may reduce the risk of bone loss. After this procedure, the gums may appear shorter because they fit more firmly to the teeth.
- Gum graft surgery: A small amount of tissue is taken from the mouth and surgically inserted in the areas of gum recession. This prevents further recession and damage to the teeth and bone. During this procedure, the patient will have sutures in two locations: at the site of the graft removal and implantation. After healing, the gum line may become healthy.
- Pinhole surgical technique: This is a new, minimally invasive procedure where a small hole is made on the gum. Tissue is then detached and stretched to reposition it over the exposed teeth.
- Laser-assisted new attachment procedure (LANAP): LANAP is a procedure done using a laser that eliminates the bacteria on the gums and sterilizes the area. This procedure helps treat infection and promote regeneration of new gums. This is a noninvasive, painless procedure that does not require any suturing and has a short healing period.
- Bonding: Artificial gum-colored resin is implanted on the teeth roots, which improves the appearance of the gum and protects the roots of the teeth.
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Johnson J. Gum Recession: Causes and Treatments. American Dental Association. http://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Publications/Files/ADA_PatientSmart_Gum_Recession.pdf
Oral Health Foundation. Promising new treatment could regenerate gum tissue and prevent tooth loss. https://www.dentalhealth.org/news/promising-new-treatment-could-regenerate-gum-tissue-and-prevent-tooth-loss
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