Gingivae, also known as gums, are the pinkish fibrous dental tissue that cover the roots and the alveolar bone which contains the tooth sockets. The gums hold the teeth in their sockets, and also form a seal that prevents damage to the roots. Healthy gums protect the teeth and periodontal structures underneath them. However, gum disease is one of the most common dental problems that dental professionals see in patients. So, how can you keep your gums safe and healthy?
What is Gingival Recession?
Gingival recession is an umbrella term for any medical or dental condition that results in loss of gingival tissue. This means that the gums pull away from their usual place in the mouth, the cemento-enamel junction (CEJ). Recession of the gums is a common problem among aging and elderly people, often due to hormonal changes or medication side effects. However, this condition can also appear in younger people.
What Are the Causes of Gingival Recession?
There are many factors that might increase a person’s risk for gingival recession. These can include:
- Poor Oral Hygiene – failure to maintain a good dental hygiene results in plaque buildup, which can calcify into a hard substance called calculus, which requires removal by a dental professional. This can result in the development of gingival inflammation and recession, which can even be indicative of more serious conditions and infections.
- Overzealous Brushing – Often, people believe that their teeth will be cleaner if they use more force and a harder bristled brush. Unfortunately, this is not true, and use of excessive force during brushing can actually do more harm than good. In fact, these habits can cause tooth abrasion and gingival recession.Dentists recommend using soft-bristled brush, and applying gentle pressure to the teeth.
- Hereditary causes – Some genetic conditions can cause the gingiva to be inherently thin and weak. As a result, they are more vulnerable to infection, inflammation, and damage.
- Smoking and Tobacco Chewing – These habits can cause direct injury to the gums. Recession is a protective mechanism of the gums against trauma and injury, and smoking can cause them to retreat.
- Scurvy – Scurvy is a painful effect of a Vitamin C deficiency. Often, since Vitamin C is important in the development of connective tissues, this condition manifests itself in gum disease and loose teeth. However, this condition can be prevented by consuming the recommended amount of Vitamin C daily.
- Tooth Crowding – When the teeth are crowded or improperly aligned, cleaning becomes difficult, which can lead to gingivitis and gingival recession.
- Placement of Dental Appliances Around Gums – Sometimes, prosthodontic appliances such as crowns, or orthodontic appliances such as bands and brackets, are placed in the subgingival region, which may cause gingival irritation, and, consequently, gingival recession.
What Is The Treatment of Gingival Recession?
In mild cases, this condition is usually self-healing, and is reversed as soon as the causative agent is identified and treated. This can include treating underlying infections and conditions, improving dental care habits, and stopping smoking. However, in chronic and severe cases, the damage to the gums and the periodontal regions can be permanent. Gingival surgery to reattach the gingivae at their appropriate place is sometimes required in these cases. Surgical procedures for this condition can include:
- Pocket depth reduction
- Soft tissue graft
In addition to surgical treatment, antibiotics are commonly prescribed to treat and prevent further infection.
How Can You Prevent Gingival Recession?
- Maintain Good Oral Hygiene -The most important step in prevention of gum recession is regular brushing and flossing. If oral hygiene maintenance is satisfactory, the chances of plaque deposition and calculus formation are minimized, thereby directly reducing the risk of gingival or periodontal infections.
- Avoid Overzealous Brushing – Taking care of the teeth by brushing gently and thoroughly can prevent damage to the teeth, and increase overall gum health.
- Visit Your Dentist Regularly – Visiting a dentist every six months can help you maintain healthy teeth and gums, and can also be imperative in the early detection of gingival recession.
With proper care and maintenance, combined with healthy dental habits, the gums can be kept healthy and strong.