Let’s face it: when it comes to your smile, the teeth are the stars and the gums are the supporting player. But, just like a secondary character in a movie can play a critical role, your gums are just as important to the health and function of your mouth as your pearly whites.
Your gums are made of tissue that should be pink, firm, and tight against the base of your teeth. They hold the teeth securely in place and protect your sensitive tooth roots and surrounding bone structure. When your gums pull away from the teeth, they must be repaired or you may suffer pain and, eventually, tooth loss.
The standard treatment for gum recession at many dental practices is gum grafting, which is an effective but relatively complicated surgical procedure. At Contemporary Dentistry & Implantology, we are trained in the groundbreaking Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique, which restores your gumline without the scalpels, sutures, or long recovery time of gum grafting.
To learn more, call our Peabody, MA dental office at 978-278-1760.
Explaining Gum Recession
Gum recession is a common dental problem that occurs when the tissue surrounding your teeth recedes, or pulls away. This begins to expose your sensitive tooth roots. Pockets may form between the teeth and gums, creating the perfect space for a buildup of damaging bacteria.
If gum recession is not reversed, it may lead to serious consequences. Exposure of the tooth roots can cause pain and sensitivity. And as the roots are not designed to be exposed, they are not covered with protective enamel. Instead, they are covered with a soft material called cementum, which is much more vulnerable to bacterial acid attacks and decay than hard enamel. Receded gums put you at an increased risk for developing cavities and gum disease as well.
And, of course, if your gums recede far enough, they will no longer be able to anchor the teeth in place and your precious pearly whites will loosen and fall out.
So pay attention to your gums. Every so often examine them closely in the mirror and make sure they are pink, healthy looking, and taut against the teeth. Take note if your teeth look longer than usual, or if you see or feel gaps along the gumline. And, of course, if your teeth feel sensitive or painful, that may be a sign of exposed roots.
Causes of Gum Recession
Gum recession may be caused or contributed to by any number of factors. Here are some common reasons your gums may recede:
- Periodontal disease occurs when bacteria infect the gum tissue. Left untreated, it will cause the gums to degrade and pull away from the teeth.
- Overzealous toothbrushing may injure your gums and cause them to recede. You should always be through when you brush, but gentle.
- Flossing is important, but if you press the floss too hard against the gums, you may injure them.
- Smoking and tobacco use in general is bad for all sorts of reasons, one being that it may contribute to gum recession.
- Poor oral hygiene and dental care may lead to a build-up of tartar, which can cause your gums to recede.
- Hormonal changes, such as during pregnancy, may cause problems with the gums.
- Grinding and clenching teeth may cause gum recession.
- Crooked and misaligned teeth can put pressure on gums, causing damage and recession.
- Lip and tongue piercings may rub the gums and wear away tissue.
- Traumatic injury to the mouth may result in gum recession.
- Some people are genetically disposed to gum problems.
A Superior Treatment
The old way (for us, at least — it’s still performed at many practices) of treating gum recession is with gum grafting. In this process, a dentist harvests tissue from your mouth, and then stitches it over the exposed tooth roots. While effective, it requires cutting and stitching and recovery may be slow and uncomfortable.
The Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique is a much better way of treating gum recession. Created by Dr. John Chao, this minimally invasive procedure requires making just a small “pinhole-sized” incision in the gums. Through the hole, we can get beneath the gums and adjust them so they cover the previously receded areas. Your gumline will be back in its correct position, with no scalpels or stitches required. Recovery time will be hours, not weeks.
If you are suffering from gum recession, prompt treatment is essential. Call Contemporary Dentistry & Implantology of Peabody, MA to schedule a consultation. Or you may get in touch with us through our online form, and we will get back to you.