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Receding Gums

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How Is Gum Recession Treated?

Mild gum recession may be able to be treated by your dentist by deep cleaning the affected area. During the deep cleaning -- also called tooth scaling and root planing -- plaque and tartar that has built up on the teeth and root surfaces below the gum line is carefully removed and the exposed root area is smoothed to make it more difficult for bacteria to attach itself. Sometimes antibiotics will also be given to get rid of any remaining harmful bacteria.

If your gum recession cannot be treated with deep cleaning because of the excess loss of bone and pockets that are too deep, gum surgery may be required to repair the damage caused by gum recession.

What Type of Surgery Is Used to Treat Gum Recession?

The following surgical procedures are used to treat gum recession:

Pocket depth reduction: During this procedure, the dentist or periodontist (gum doctor) folds back the affected gum tissue, removes the harmful bacteria from the pockets, and then snugly secures the gum tissue in place over the tooth root, thus eliminating the pockets or reducing their size.

Regeneration: If the bone supporting your teeth has been destroyed as a result of gum recession, a procedure to regenerate lost bone and tissue may be recommended. As in pocket depth reduction, your dentist will fold back the gum tissue and remove the bacteria. A regenerative material, such as a membrane, graft tissue, or tissue-stimulating protein, will then be applied to encourage your body to naturally regenerate bone and tissue in that area. After the regenerative material is put in place, the gum tissue is secured over the root of the tooth or teeth.

Soft tissue graft: There are several types of gum tissue graft procedures, but the most commonly used one is called a connective tissue graft. In this procedure, a flap of skin is cut at the roof of your mouth (palate) and tissue from under the flap, called subepithelial connective tissue, is removed and then stitched to the gum tissue surrounding the exposed root. After the connective tissue -- the graft -- has been removed from under the flap, the flap is stitched back down. During another type of graft, called free gingival graft, tissue is taken directly from the roof of the mouth instead of under the skin. Sometimes, if you have enough gum tissue surrounding the affected teeth, the dentist is able to graft gum from near the tooth and not remove tissue from the palate. This is called a pedicle graft. 

Your dentist can determine the best type of procedure to use on you based on your individual needs.

How Can I Prevent Gum Recession?

The best way to prevent gum recession is to take good care of your mouth. Brush and floss your teeth every day and see your dentist or periodontist at least twice a year, or as recommended. If you have gum recession, your dentist may want to see you more often. Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush and ask your dentist to show you the proper way to brush your teeth. If a misaligned bite or teeth grinding is the cause of gum recession, talk to your dentist about how to correct the problem. Other ways to prevent gum recession include:

  • Quit smoking if you smoke.
  • Eat a well balanced and healthy diet.
  • Monitor changes that may occur in your mouth.

By taking good care of your teeth, you can have a healthy smile forever.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Elverne M Tonn, DDS on August 20, 2012
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Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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