What is the gingival recession and how to treat it?

Gum or gingival recession occurs in cases where the gingival margin moves away from the crown of the tooth. In healthy teeth and gums, the tissue embraces the tooth firmly, this tight union prevents food particles from getting in between the gum and the tooth. It also protects the parts of the tooth underneath the tissue. As the gum moves away from the tooth, parts of the tooth that are not made to withstand exposure to elements such as bacteria, acids and sugars are exposed in the same way upper part of the tooth are. This situation can lead to hypersensitivity to thermal changes, decay or wear of the tooth root and aesthetic problems.

Gingival recession can occur in people of all ages. In a large percentage of cases, it is observed in people who have a very good oral hygiene.

Causes of gingival recession:

  • Overzealous tooth brushing or use of a hard bristle toothbrush
  • Gum disease
  • Previous orthodontic treatments
  • Accumulation of calculus or tartar
  • Poorly adjusted prostheses
  • Genetics (people who have very thin gums or bone)
  • Muscle attachments that pull constantly on the tissue

Treatment of gingival recession:

The first step is to modify an overly aggressive brushing technique or to correct an ill-fitting prosthesis. Rather than causing the tissue to grow back, it prevents the problem from progressing.

In cases where there is gum disease, the patient should be treated first by a dentist  so that bacterial plaque and calculus are removed from the tooth and root surfaces.

Once all the causative factors have been modified, a gum graft can be performed.

Gum Graft Procedure

This procedure obtains tissue from another part of the patient’s mouth – usually from the palate – and places it on the area of recession.

This same procedure can be done using allografts (tissue from a corpse) or collagen-based materials. This avoids having to obtain the tissue from the palate.

Once the procedure is performed and the root is completely or partially covered, the firm union of the gum to the tooth is restored, allowing for protection against cavities and dental hypersensitivity and improved aesthetics of the smile.

The success of the procedure will depend on the patient. In order to prevent a relapse of the lesion, It is imperative that the patient avoid hard or overly aggressive brushing.

Home care as well as dental visits every 6 months is an easy and inexpensive way to avoid painful and complicated problems in the future.

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