Gum recession is not only unattractive but may also promote cavities and tooth loss. Signs of gums receding enough to uncover tooth roots include rapid yellowing of dental enamel and tooth sensitivity to cold or sugary foods. Causes of gum recession usually involve:
- Gingivitis – gum disease characterized by bleeding and swollen gums
- Aging – oral tissues lose fluids as we age, resulting in shrinkage
- Overly aggressive brushing or flossing – brushing hard in a “washboard” fashion will erode gum tissue at the roots of teeth
- Genetic predisposition to gingival recession – inheriting thin or insufficient gum tissue may cause premature gum recession
- Bruxism – teeth-grinding while sleeping
- Chewing tobacco and smoking
In the past, patients only had one treatment available for receding gums. Gum graft surgery uses donor tissue or removes tissue from the roof of the mouth to repair gum recession areas. Gum grafts require surgical stitches to attach tissue to existing gum tissue. Recovery time for a gum graft can be six weeks or longer, depending on the severity of gum recession.