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Receding gums – a common problem
It is normal for the gums to recede slightly with age. However, if there is pronounced gum recession, this can have unpleasant consequences.
Gum recession – what is it exactly?
A slight recession of the gums (gingiva), without inflammation being present, is a normal aging process. Initially, this does not pose a threat to the health of teeth and gums. A distinction must be made between this and pronounced gum recession, which usually results from years of incorrect tooth brushing (with too much pressure). This exposes the necks of the teeth and, in some cases, the roots, which causes the teeth to be sensitive to hot and cold. Caries can also develop more easily in the unprotected areas.
In addition to mechanical injuries to the gums, inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) or the periodontium (periodontitis) are also possible causes of tissue recession.
Gum recession – what is it?
When the gums recede towards the roots of the teeth, exposing the necks or roots of the teeth, doctors refer to this as “gum recession”.
Gum recession is not just a cosmetic problem
When the gums recede, the first problem is often an aesthetic one: the affected teeth appear unnaturally long. But if the receding gums are not stopped or the causes remain untreated, unpleasant consequences are imminent:
- Exposed tooth necks: Because the gums recede, the sensitive tooth necks are exposed
- Sensitive teeth: Teeth are sensitive to cold or hot, so eating and drinking can become a painful affair.
- Tooth decay: Tooth neck or root decay can easily develop in areas where the protective gums have receded.
- Gum inflammation: Gum recession can also make oral hygiene more difficult, increasing the risk for tooth decay and gingivitis.
Important: Gums cannot form anew. Only special operations can attempt to replace the missing tissue and thus cover the sensitive tooth root again. It is therefore important to identify the problem early and avoid further gum recession.
Our gums perform important protective functions
Healthy gums act like a natural barrier: they cover the neck of the tooth, the tooth roots and the alveolar bone and protect these structures not only from mechanical stress but also from bacteria and other damaging influences (e.g. heat, irritating substances).
You often only really become aware of these functions when gum problems occur. In addition to inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and inflammation of the periodontium (periodontitis), the recession of the gums should also be mentioned in this context.
Gum recession – a common problem
If the gums recede in the direction of the tooth root, doctors refer to this as “gum recession”. This can vary in severity and progress over time. A typical sign is that the affected teeth appear unnaturally long, because first the tooth necks and later parts of the root can be exposed. Affected people often only notice that something is wrong when the necks of the teeth are already exposed. By then, the teeth already seem longer and often become noticeable through increased sensitivity to pain. To ensure that possible gum problems are detected early, regular check-ups with the dentist are essential. Good to know: It is normal for the gums to recede slightly with age, provided there is no underlying inflammation. This is a natural aging process. However, if you notice a significant change, you should contact your dentist.
Why do the gums recede?
When the gums recede, this can have various causes. Mechanical factors play a prominent role: incorrect tooth brushing with too much pressure in particular can cause the gums to be literally “scrubbed off”. People who already have thin gums are particularly at risk. Misalignment of the teeth and grinding the teeth at night can also promote receding gums.
Another important cause of gum recession is inflammation of the periodontium (periodontitis). In the course of the disease, the ongoing inflammatory processes cause the gums to recede more and more.
Would you have known?
Gum recession is not just an aesthetic problem. Since the teeth are often sensitive to cold or hot, eating and drinking can become a painful affair.
What to do in case of receding gums?
First of all, it is important to recognize the problem at an early stage and to identify the causes of gum recession. This is the only way to counteract its progress. For example, if mechanical damage caused by incorrect brushing has led to gum recession, a change in brushing habits (e.g. correct technique, soft bristles) is necessary to counteract any worsening.
If, on the other hand, periodontitis is the underlying condition, this requires targeted treatment, the main aim of which is to reduce the triggering bacteria in the mouth by means of optimum oral hygiene.
Note: Those affected often only notice the problem when the teeth already appear longer and the necks of the teeth are exposed. Therefore, regular check-ups at the dentist are important to detect possible weak spots early on.
Forming new gums – is that possible?
Slightly affected gums can still regenerate if the causes of the gum recession are eliminated. However, there is currently no possibility of being able to regenerate gums that have already been degraded. Specifically, this means that the body cannot rebuild lost tissue: Reversing gum recession is therefore not possible. However, with the help of special dental surgery, the areas where the gums are missing can be covered (e.g. as part of a gum graft or by moving the gums). In this context, one also speaks of gum correction. In this way, “new” gums can be built up, so to speak, which may be desirable not only from an aesthetic point of view. Because by covering the exposed tooth necks and roots, the pain sensitivity of the teeth can also be alleviated and the risk of tooth neck and root caries reduced.
Are there any specific remedies for gum recession?
The one remedy for gum recession does not exist. So, there is no specific agent available that can “bring back” tissue that has already been lost or stop gum recession. Home remedies for gum recession are not recommended.
The most important basic measure is thorough but gentle oral hygiene. A dental examination is strongly recommended, for example, to rule out the possibility that periodontitis is responsible for the gum recession. In addition, special dental treatments may be required.
Stop gum recession
To be able to stop gum recession, sufferers should heed the following advice:
- An examination by a dentist is important. He can make an accurate diagnosis and, if necessary, initiate appropriate treatment. Attend regular check-ups and take advantage of the opportunity to have your teeth professionally cleaned.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day: in the morning after breakfast and in the evening before going to bed. Use a fluoride toothpaste and clean the spaces between your teeth once a day.
- When brushing your teeth, make sure that you do not “work” with too much pressure. In addition, it depends on the correct technique: Scrubbing back and forth damages teeth and gums; wiping out movements from red (gums) to white (teeth) are better.
- Choose a toothbrush with rather soft bristles, especially suitable for sensitive teeth and gums. Replace the toothbrush at least every two months to avoid hygienic problems and injuries caused by damaged bristles.
- If you have gingivitis or periodontitis, thorough oral hygiene is particularly important to get the inflammation under control.
- Tobacco smoke has a variety of negative effects on health – it can also damage teeth and gums. Avoid such additional irritants.
- A strong immune system can keep bacteria in check that can trigger gingivitis or periodontitis, causing gums to recede. So make sure you lead a healthy lifestyle, with a balanced diet, sufficient sleep and a sensible approach to stress.
- An antibacterial mouth rinse can be helpful as a supplement to reach hard-to-reach areas.
Tips against receding gums
We have compiled the best tips against receding gums for you here.
Prevention is better than cure
If the gums have already receded, the chances are slim: because the body cannot simply regenerate tissue that has already been lost. It is therefore all the more important to eliminate all factors that can cause the gums to recede. These include, first and foremost, incorrect tooth brushing habits. But inflammation of the gums or periodontitis can also promote gum recession.
Brushing your teeth properly
Many people tend to apply too much pressure when brushing their teeth. In the long run, an “aggressive” brushing technique can literally scrub away the gums. Horizontal movements with the toothbrush also have a negative effect. If you want to avoid receding gums, you should take a close look at your toothbrushing habits. It is recommended that teeth be brushed twice a day, using the KAI method, for example. This involves wiping movements from “red” to “white”, i.e. from the gums towards the teeth, according to the so-called Stillmann technique. More tips on how to brush your teeth properly.
The toothbrush is also important
Make sure that your toothbrush does not have bristles that are too hard. This will help you avoid mechanical injuries to your gums. And remember to replace your toothbrush with a new one every two months at the latest. Because damaged bristles can also irritate the gums.
Visit the dentist
If you have the impression that your gums have already receded, you should ask your dentist for advice. He can make an accurate diagnosis and initiate appropriate treatment. In addition, you can also get comprehensive advice in the practice on the topics of oral hygiene and tooth brushing technique.