Dental Procedure For Dental Recession

Dental recession is a displacement of the gum around the teeth that results in greater tooth exposure and a longer looking tooth. As the gum that protects the root surface of the tooth is lost, not only does it create an esthetic deformity, it makes the tooth more sensitive to changes in temperature (hot and cold), touch, and to proper oral hygiene techniques. The exposed root surfaces also are more susceptible to cavities. Causes of dental recession include:

  • Periodontal disease: The bacteria that cause gingivitis can release toxins that injure the gum tissues and create gum recession. Once the gum is affected by gingivitis (see article "Gingivitis"), it is even more susceptible to further dental recession and bone loss. So if the gum is red, swollen, or bleeds when probed, it is more likely to continue receding. Eventually, there may not be enough healthy gum and bone left to protect the tooth and the tooth may need to be removed. If there is less than 2 mm of healthy gum in an area of recession, a dentist may recommend a gum graft to help prevent further receding gums and help protect the tooth.
  • Trauma: Medium or hard bristle toothbrushes, brushing too hard, or brushing inappropriately can damage the teeth and the gums. It is very important to use a soft bristle toothbrush when cleaning the teeth, and to follow proper technique. Mechanical trauma to the gums also can be caused by improperly fitting dental restorations or dentures. Fillings that are rough or dentures that are loose or poorly designed can injure the gums and cause them to recede.

Gums also may recede as a result of orthodontic treatment or from manipulation during restorative procedures. To prevent this from occurring, a dentist may recommend gum grafting before orthodontics or restorative treatment.

Gum grafts are indicated if an individual has root sensitivity to touch or temperature changes, if new restorative work will be done in the area of the dental recession, if the roots are susceptible to cavities, or if an individual is having problems following proper plaque control procedures. In addition, gum grafts are cosmetic periodontal procedures that can be performed to enhance smiles if recession has created esthetic problems such as long teeth or exposed roots.

By Laura Minsk, DMD

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