What is gum recession?
Gum recession is the process in which the margin of the gum tissue that protects the teeth wears away, or pulls back, exposing more of the tooth root. When gum recession occurs, “pockets” or “gaps” form between the teeth and gum line, therefore, making it easy for disease causing bacteria to build up and destroy teeth. If left untreated, the supporting tissue and bone structures of the teeth can be severely damaged and may ultimately result in tooth loss.
Gum recession is a common dental problem and most people do not know that they have gum recession because it occurs gradually. Some signs of gum recession include tooth sensitivity, longer appearing teeth, root cavities and notches or grooves in the teeth near the gum line.
Why do gums recede?
Gums can recede due to a variety of reasons: periodontal (gum) disease; aggressive tooth brushing; insufficient dental care; hormonal changes; smoking (or tobacco products); grinding and clenching teeth; crooked/misaligned teeth; and body piercing of the lip and tongue.
How is gum recession treated?
Periodontal procedures are available to stop gum recession and further dental problems, and also to improve the aesthetics of your gum line. Soft tissue (gum) grafts can be used to cover exposed root surfaces or strengthen and develop gum tissue which is absent due to excessive gum recession.
Traditional grafting is done by taking gum tissue from your palate (roof of the mouth), or using another donor source to cover the exposed root. In this procedure a scalpel to cut your gums and sutures are used. Dr. Hapak is also certified in a newer technique for covering exposed root surfaces called the Pinhole Surgical Technique. With this method the gums are not cut using a scalpel and no sutures are used therefore, many patients can expect minimal post-operative symptoms with this technique.
Other reasons for soft tissue grafting.
A Periodontist may recommend a gum graft for other reasons than receding gums. If you are planning on having orthodontic treatment (braces), and your gums are very thin, your Orthodontist or Dentist may request a consultation to discuss soft tissue grafting to strengthen gum tissue before orthodontic treatment is started. When the gums are strong and thick there is significantly less chance that moving teeth may create gum recession. In other cases when teeth are missing and the bone and gums have shrunk in the area, a gum graft can be placed to “bulk up” the gum tissue to make the area more aesthetic in appearance.
If you have gum recession or thin gums and would like more information about whether you are a candidate for soft tissue gum grafting, contact our office to schedule a consultation.