Gingival recession, or receding gums, is a condition where the roots of the teeth become exposed because of the loss or shrinking of gum tissue. Treating gum recession is important, not only for comfort, but also to preserve the health of your teeth. Left untreated, this condition can lead to greater risk of tooth decay and other oral conditions such as a poor bite, sore jaw, periodontal disease and tooth loss. Depending on the degree of recession, treatments include changing brushing habits, deep cleaning by a dentist, and dental surgery to repair the gum damage.
Although receding gums are typically a normal part of the aging process in those over 40, many people may notice them much earlier than that. Sometimes gum recession can be identified by sight, or by feeling the top of the teeth at the gumline. Many people with receding gums feel like their teeth are notched at the top. Discomfort is another common symptom of receding gums, because the exposed top portion of the tooth is much more sensitive than the rest, making it uncomfortable to eat hot or cold foods and liquids.
The treatment for receding gums depends on what's causing the recession. If it's caused by misaligned teeth, then an orthodontist may be able to help with braces or other appliances. For those who suffer receding gums due to overly exuberant brushing, consider switching to a softer bristled toothbrush and ask your dental hygienist for tips to improve your technique. The progression of the condition can be slowed by quitting smoking and brushing regularly. In the case of someone with periodontal disease, treating the underlying condition is a big part of treating gum recession.
For those with severely receded gums, a graft from another part of the mouth may be the only option for treatment. If the damage is not quite as bad, then a dentist can clean any gaps or holes in the teeth and gums, and then fill them in with a material that stops the gums from receding further and stimulates re-growth.
Herbal or homeopathic treatments offer less invasive solutions. Popular homeopathic remedies include massaging your gums with mustard oil daily, or using a solution of kali phos, nat sulph, and silicea on the gums. Merc sol is also sometimes recommended. Be sure to do your own research; herbal and homeopathic remedies aren't regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and it's beneficial to be aware of any side effects or situations where the remedy may be contraindicated.
Regular cleanings to remove plaque build up as well as treatments for possible periodontal disease should be undertaken where appropriate. Although some people are predisposed to receded gums due to heredity, premature gum loss may be prevented with proper oral hygiene including daily brushing, flossing and regular visits to a dentist. Many dentists advise patients to focus most on proper flossing, saying that it is even more important than brushing alone. Those who have minor or serious gum disease, particularly those with accompanying gum recession, should be examined by their dentist on a regular basis to check for pockets in the gum as well as bone loss. Prevention, early diagnosis and aggressive treatment will all help in avoiding loss of teeth and receding gums.