Gum Recession

Gingival recession (receding gums) refers to the progressive loss of gum tissue, which can eventually result in tooth root exposure if left untreated.  Gum recession is most common in adults over the age of 40, but the process can begin in the teenage years.

Gum recession can be difficult to self-diagnose in its earlier stages because the changes often occur asymptomatically and gradually.  Regular dental check ups will help to prevent gum recession and assess risk factors.

The following symptoms may be indicative of gum recession:

  • Sensitive teeth – When the gums recede enough to expose the cementum protecting the tooth root, the dentin tubules beneath will become more susceptible to external stimuli.

  • Visible roots – This is one of the main characteristics of a more severe case of gum recession.

  • Longer-looking teeth – Individuals experiencing gingival recession often have a “toothy” smile.  The length of the teeth is perfectly normal, but the gum tissue has been lost, making the teeth appear longer.

  • Halitosis, inflammation and bleeding – These symptoms are characteristic of gingivitis or periodontal disease.  A bacterial infection causes the gums to recede from the teeth and may cause tooth loss if not treated promptly.

Causes of Gum Recession

Gum recession is an incredibly widespread problem that dentists diagnose and treat on a daily basis.  It is important to thoroughly examine the affected areas and make an accurate diagnosis of the actual underlying problem.  Once the cause of the gum recession has been determined, surgical and non surgical procedures can be performed to halt the progress of the recession, and prevent it from occurring in the future.

The most common causes of gingival recession are:

  • Overaggressive brushing – Over brushing can almost be as dangerous to the gums as too little.  Brushing too hard or brushing with a hard-bristled toothbrush can erode the tooth enamel at the gum line, and irritate or inflame gum tissue.

  • Poor oral hygiene – When brushing and flossing are performed improperly or not at all, a plaque build up can begin to affect the teeth.  The plaque contains various bacterial toxins which can promote infection and erode the underlying jawbone.

  • Chewing tobacco – Any kind of tobacco use has devastating effects on the entire oral cavity.  Chewing tobacco in particular, aggravates the gingival lining of the mouth and causes gum recession if used continuously.

  • Periodontal disease – Periodontal disease can be a result of improper oral hygiene or caused by systemic diseases such as diabetes.  The excess sugars in the mouth and narrowed blood vessels experienced by diabetics create a perfect environment for oral bacteria.  The bacterium causes an infection which progresses deeper and deeper into the gum and bone tissue, eventually resulting in tooth loss.

Treatment of Gum Recession

Every case of gum recession is slightly different, and therefore many treatments are available.  The nature of the problem which caused the recession to begin with needs to be addressed first.

If overly aggressive brushing techniques are eroding the gums, a softer toothbrush and a gentler brushing technique should be used.  If poor oral hygiene is a problem, prophylaxis (professional dental cleaning) may be recommended to rid the gum pockets of debris and bacteria.  In the case of a severe calculus (tartar) build up, scaling and root planing will be performed to heal the gingival inflammation and clean the teeth.

Once the cause of the gingival recession has been addressed, surgery of a more cosmetic or restorative nature may be recommended.  Gum tissue regeneration and gum grafting are two excellent ways to restore natural symmetry to the gums and make the smile look more aesthetically pleasing.

If you have any questions or concerns about periodontal disease, periodontal treatments, or gum recession, please ask your dentist. Dr. Kamyar Hekmat DDS.

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Dr. Hekmat's chairside manner is something that should be cloned, and all young dentists and doctors should be able to see the tender insight that this man gives his patients. Dr. Hekmat is one of the nicest, most skillful, most dedicated men I have ever met. I can't believe I was so lucky to have found him in such a huge, busy metropolis as Los Angeles.

John Burbank, CA

Dr. Hekmat has been my trusted family dentist for many years, not only taking care of me--but my wife, sister, mother, brother-in-law and mother-in-law, too! From the warm smiles that greet me when I walk in the door to the compassionate, skillful and concerned care that Dr. Hekmat and his staff provide, my visits to his office are always like visiting a member of the family. ...And I don’t want to forget to mention that I appreciate the fact that in busy Westwood, Dr. Hekmat still provides completely free, validated parking. That’s no small feat in my part of town!

Louis Santa Monica, CA

Dr. Hekmat and his team are true professionals. He is kind and always has time to answer ALL of my questions and concerns. I began visiting him after a a friend referred to me several years ago and I have not visited any other dentists since getting work done with him because he continuously provides me and my family with excellent work. I have had a root canal, crowns, bonding, whitening and removal of amalgam fillings with him and I could not be happier with his work.

He is also totally available for emergencies, something other doctors shirk at. I was on my way to LAX when my front tooth (it was being prepped for a root canal) totally came off, I panicked, called him and drove myself to his office within a hour he had me all patched up.

He never tries to sell you anything, he and his staff know my name and always make me feel welcome and calm the anxiety that comes with getting dental work done.

Lizzie West Los Angeles, CA

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