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Gum Recession: Prevention and Treatments

Dental professionals estimate that up to 12 percent of Americans of all ages have gum recession. In addition, 88 percent of all adults over the age of 65 have gum recession that affects at least one tooth. However, many people don't notice the first signs of it, because it occurs gradually and often doesn't cause complications until it becomes severe. When it becomes severe enough, it can lead to tooth sensitivity, tooth infection, and even tooth loss. 
Once gum recession occurs, it is impossible to reverse without restoring gum tissue surgically.  
Read on to learn how to prevent or halt gum recession and surgical treatment options your dentist may recommend if you already suffer from it. 

Gum Recession Prevention

Unfortunately, some people do have a genetic predisposition to developing gum recession as they age. Fortunately, whether gum recession runs in your family or not, there are steps you can take to prevent it:
  • Don't brush too hard. Brush your teeth gently with a soft toothbrush. If you brush your gums too hard too often, it can quickly lead to gum recession. 
  • Take steps to control teeth grinding or clenching. If you grind or clench your teeth, realize that the force you exert on your tooth roots can cause your gums to recede over time. Take steps to limit stress that often causes teeth grinding or clenching and ask your doctor for a mouth guard to wear overnight if you typically grind during your sleep. 
  • Take steps to control gum disease. Gum inflammation caused by periodontal disease can lead to gum recession over time. 
  • Tobacco use. Tobacco use can cause many oral health problems, including gum recession. 
While you cannot reverse gum recession, if you eliminate the bad habits that may be causing it, you can keep it from progressing to the point where it causes you severe complications. 

Gum Recession Treatments

If your gum recession is severe and/or you are experiencing gum recession complications, then realize that there are several types of gum recession surgery today that can help you get your healthy smile back.
While tissue grafts have been the standard treatment for receding gums for many years and they can treat even severe gum recession, there is a newer gum recession surgery that is minimally invasive and a great option for less severe cases of gum recession. 
Gum Grafts
There are several unique types of gum graft procedures used to treat gum recession, including connective tissue grafts, free gingival grafts, and pedicle grafts. Connective tissue grafts and free gingival grafts are both performed by removing tissue from the roof of your mouth and suturing it to your existing gum tissue to expand it over your exposed tooth roots.
In order to perform a pedicle graft, the existing gum tissue above the areas of your mouth experiencing gum recession is cut, brought down to cover your tooth roots, and then sutured into place. 
Gum Pinhole Surgery
Gum pinhole surgery is a minimally invasive gum recession treatment that is a great option when gums are otherwise in good health. Unlike gum grafts, no tissue needs to be removed from your mouth and repositioned over your exposed tooth roots, nor do you need sutures for a gum pinhole surgery. 
To perform gum pinhole surgery, your dentist will make a small hole above each tooth affected by gum recession. This hole is then used as an access hole where special instruments are inserted to loosen and expand your existing gum tissue. Finally, your expanded gum tissue is slid down to cover your exposed roots. 
Not only is pinhole surgery less invasive, but recovery time after this gum surgery is typically much quicker than after traditional gum grafting. Most people can return to eating their normal diets about 24 hours after gum pinhole surgery. 
Be sure to take steps to prevent gum recession and the complications that can accompany it. If you already suffer from gum recession, then realize that along with traditional gum graft surgeries, there is a new gum recession surgery that is much less invasive.