Gum health, and how to fix receding gums, may not seem like the most thrilling topic at first, but read a bit about it and you may just find it to be pretty darn fascinating.
Think about it—gums are a part of our mouths that we use every single day of our lives, and yet, the topic of gum health is not usually at the forefront of the conversation on general health.
That's why in this article we'll talk about the importance of gum health as part of your overall oral health, and how to reverse receding gums.
Table of contents
- 1 What should my gums look like?
- 2 What are receding gums?
- 3 Why do gums recede?
- 4 How to fix receding gums?
- 5 How to fix receding gums without surgery
- 6 How much does it cost to fix receding gums?
- 7 Can receding gums grow back?
- 8 How to stop receding gums from getting worse
- 9 Conclusion
- 10 FAQs
What should my gums look like?
Let's begin with a quick description of what exactly healthy gums look like: Healthy gums are light to medium pink in color, firm in appearance and texture, lie just against your teeth, do not create a pool of blood in your mouth every time you brush or floss your teeth, and definitely do not get in the way of you and your favorite ice cream.
If you can't fully agree with the scenario outlined above then your gums are in desperate need of some TLC, but don’t worry! You are not alone in this. Periodontal gum disease (the inflammation of gums and bones secondary to bacterial infestation) can be found in nearly half of the adults aged 30 and above.
While we are already on the subject of periodontal disease, it is important that we discuss gum recession, a condition that can destroy the beauty of your smile and shatter your confidence for the rest of your life. Given the recent surge in the smoking trend, the skyrocketing prevalence of receding gums does not seem too surprising.
Now that we have a good idea about the importance of gum health and how gum recession can potentially harm one's overall oral health and even outlook on life, you must be wondering how to treat receding gums for good, or better yet, how to reverse receding gums, medically and naturally.
Keep reading to find out!
What are receding gums?
Gum recession refers to a condition in which gums draw back from the teeth, leaving the roots of your teeth completely exposed. This condition is also called gingival recession.
There are multiple ways in which gum recession may present itself. For example, you might start feeling increased sensitivity in your tooth, or your teeth may suddenly look longer than normal. Sometimes, a notch may appear on your gum line (the area where the gum meets the tooth).
Gum recession is a very common dental problem but it should not be ignored as it is an indication of serious underlying gum disease.
Why do gums recede?
What causes receding gums in most people? There are a handful of reasons, some of which are mentioned below.
Periodontal disease refers to the infection and inflammation of gums along with other structures in the mouth. The bacteria start building up in your gum tissue along with other debris to form plaque which, in turn, causes the gums to inflame.
Factors that may contribute to periodontal disease include:
- Lack of oral hygiene
- Crooked teeth
- Faulty or damaged fillings
- Ill-fitting dentures or bridges
- Using a medication that can cause dryness of mouth
- Hormonal imbalance or changes due to physiological conditions such as pregnancy or oral contraceptives
- Smoking or chewing areca nuts
There are two stages of periodontal disease:
Gingivitis is the inflammation of gums which may also lead to swelling, redness, and even bleeding. Gingivitis, if not treated, may lead to periodontitis. So it is advised to treat receding gums as soon as possible.
If you want to know more about gingivitis, you can read our full guide here.
Periodontitis usually follows gingivitis, setting the stage for your gums to recede. When this occurs, your gums and connective tissue start pulling away from your teeth, leading to the formation of pockets between the tooth and gums. These pockets harbor bacteria over time, exacerbating the inflammation. In advanced stages, you may even lose a few teeth due to continued bone loss and erosion.
Forceful or incorrect brushing
As much as regular brushing is important for maintaining good oral hygiene, using incorrect brushing techniques can actually damage your teeth. The part of your gum that comes in contact with the crown of the tooth is called the gingival margin. Vigorous brushing can damage this area, triggering inflammation and gum recession along with other dental issues.
Some incorrect brushing factors that can lead to gum damage and recession include:
- Application of too much pressure
- Using a toothbrush with hard bristles
- Brushing the teeth in long horizontal strokes
Teeth grinding and clenching
Some people have a habit of grinding their teeth as they sleep. This puts a lot of pressure on the gums, and may ultimately lead to gum recession over time.
Grinding and clenching your teeth can make them loose in their sockets and create deep pockets between the tooth and gum for bacteria to accumulate and flourish. These bacteria make the gums inflamed, and ultimately, gum recession occurs.
A direct injury to the gum tissue can cause recession in the injured area. These injuries could occur in many contexts such as:
- During a dental procedure
- In a fall or accident
- Wearing partial or ill-fitting dentures
- While playing contact sports
How to fix receding gums?
Treatment of your receding gums depends on the underlying cause. Periodontists specialize in the treatment of gum disease. The following are some treatment options that can help reattach or restore gum tissue.
Gum graft surgery
Gum graft surgery is a surgical technique that can stop bone loss and gum recession from occurring any further. In addition, it may also protect the previously exposed root from decay. Multiple types of gum grafts are available and the choice usually depends on your individual needs and the extent of the damage. Your dentist will discuss different types of grafts available with you to find the best option for you.
The procedure is made pain-free with the help of local anesthesia. During the surgery, some of the existing gum might also have to be lifted away to expose and clean the root of the tooth.
There are three different types of gum graft surgery:
- Connective tissue graft
- Free gingival graft
- Pedicle (lateral) grafts
Pinhole surgical technique
Pinhole surgical technique (PST) is an innovative surgical treatment for receding gums. In PST, your dentist makes a tiny hole in your gum tissue above the exposed tooth root. This is followed by separation of the gum from your tooth root with the help of a special tool. The gum is then stretched and repositioned over the exposed tooth root. PST is a minimally invasive procedure and is considered the best treatment for stopping gums from receding.
How to fix receding gums without surgery
There are several methods to accomplish this, some of which are discussed below:
- Desensitizing agents, varnishes, and dentin bonding agents: All these products are used to decrease the sensitivity of an already exposed tooth root. These agents not only treat the nerve symptoms but also play a role in oral hygiene by making the brushing of sensitive teeth much easier.
- Pink porcelain or composite: It’s a material that matches the color of your gums and can be used to fill the gap between your gums and teeth.
- Removable gum veneers: In patients with large areas of missing gum tissue, veneers are used as replacements. These are mostly made of acrylic and silicone materials.
- Composite restoration: Tooth-colored composite resins are also used to cover the exposed surface of the root. This also closes the black gap between teeth.
- Orthodontics: Repositioning is another way to reduce gum recession. Different processes are used to position the tooth back over the gum tissue slowly while correcting the gum margin.
- Scaling and root planing: Some of the first-line treatments that your dentist would recommend for gum recession are scaling and root planing. In these procedures, plaque and tartar are removed from below the gum line which cannot be removed by normal brushing. The roots are then smoothed with a special instrument that helps reattach the gum and tooth.
How much does it cost to fix receding gums?
Have a look at the following table to see what you might have to pay to fix your gums:
Can receding gums grow back?
‘Can receding gums be reversed?‘ is a question a lot of people with this problem are wondering.
In the simplest words, no, receding gums cannot be reversed; nor can they grow back. Once your gum tissue is damaged due to for example, periodontitis, it is impossible to grow it back.
However, with the help of various gum recession treatment options, we can definitely stop further progression. There are some natural remedies that can help soothe the underlying condition and may stop further advancement of this issue that we will discuss in the next section.
Natural remedies for receding gums
There are many natural remedies that help you soothe gum recession, these include:
According to some research, eucalyptus oil acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and stimulates new gum tissue, thereby maintaining appropriate oral health and stopping gums from receding.
A study performed in 2009 showed that green tea has a lot of benefits for teeth and gums. It may actually help you get rid of any gum disease. Try including two cups of green tea in your daily diet or use it as a daily mouth wash.
One of the most popular receding gums cures is septilin, a multi herbal preparation with multiple constituents such as guggul, guduchi, licorice and some other compounds. Septilin not only provides deep cleaning but also reduces the chances of tooth loss. This has been proven by a 2014 clinical trial published in the Journal of Periodontal Implant Science.
According to a 2015 study, turmeric gel is extremely effective in the prevention of plaque formation, a major cause of gum recession. The main ingredient in this gel is curcumin, which with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, provides deep cleaning and strengthens the tooth roots.
If you have sore, red and swollen gums, hydrogen peroxide is your go-to option. Being an effective receding gum treatment, it prevents dental caries and reduces uncomfortable symptoms.
To make this solution, mix 1/4th cup each of 3% hydrogen and water and use this mixture to rinse your mouth for about 30 seconds. Repeat this procedure about 2-3 times a week and avoid swallowing the solution. Many people have voted this solution as the best mouthwash for receding gums. However, you should consult your dentist before trying it out.
How to stop receding gums from getting worse
Use correct brushing techniques
- The toothbrush should be placed at an angle of 45 degrees against the gums.
- The toothbrush should be swept back and forth against the teeth in small tight strokes, with the application of gentle pressure.
- Hold the brush vertically when you are cleaning the inner surface of the front teeth.
- The chewing surface of the teeth should not be ignored while brushing.
- Teeth should be brushed for a total of two minutes.
Wear a mouthguard
Teeth grinding should be prevented by wearing a mouthguard. Mouthguards not only help apply an even amount of pressure across the jaw, but they also act as a physical barrier to prevent teeth grinding.
Replace ill-fitting dentures
Ill-fitting dentures may cause gums to recede due to continual rubbing. This can be prevented by replacing partial dentures whenever needed.
Visit the dentist regularly
Regular visits to a dentist can prevent gum damage with early diagnosis and treatment. Moreover, any ill-fitting dentures should also be recognized and replaced.
In the video below an American Dental Association representative summarizes some of the key ways to prevent and treat gum recession.
Gum damage, once occurred, is nearly impossible to completely reverse; however, there are certain measures that can be taken to reattach and restore gum tissue around the teeth. Good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups are the key to prevent, slow down or stop gums from receding. Talk to your dentist and get tailored medical advice about your gum treatment according to your gum condition.
Why are my gums receding?
Multiple factors can lead to gum recession. In most cases, the cause is periodontal disease, which is a bacterial infection of gum tissue and the supporting bone.
How can I prevent gum recession?
Observing good oral hygiene is the best way to prevent gum recession. Brush and floss daily and get a dental checkup biannually. In case you have already developed gum recession, quit smoking, eat a well balanced and healthy diet, and keep monitoring your gums for any changes.
How can I make my gums healthier?
- Use an electric toothbrush instead of a traditional one.
- Brush your teeth in the correct way at least twice a day.
- Choose a toothbrush that has an attached tongue scraper.
- Floss your teeth daily and massage your gums.
- Replace your current toothpaste and mouthwash with one that has fluoride.