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Receding Gums

Posted on 12/1/2016 by Fariba Mutschler
Janie has a problem. She is 17 and her gums hurt around her lower front teeth.

When she came in, her gums were very sore and swollen around her lower right incisor and the gums (or gingiva for those dentally inclined) were receded down the tooth root about 3 mm below the other teeth. I noticed that the small muscle attaching her lip to her jaw was pulling on the gums right next to the recession area.

This occurred very quickly, over the last few months, and it was fairly painful. The area of exposed root was sensitive to hot and cold and especially sensitive to cold air. Inflammation around the gingiva made the soft tissue painful and it bled easily. Plaque coated the whole area because she did not want to brush it because it was so painful.

This kind of gingival recession or receding gums is caused by a loss of the thin jaw bone that covers the teeth to hold them in place. When the bone becomes too thin, it can suddenly just dissolve away completely. With no bone to attach to, the gingiva tries to stick to the tooth.

If something prevents this attachment, like poor muscle attachments or the other teeth biting against the gums, then the gums will pull away and disappear also, leaving the sensitive tooth root exposed and the gingiva at risk of further recession.

The treatment for this problem is:
Keep the exposed root clean with gentle strokes from a soft bristle toothbrush or a cotton swab with hydrogen peroxide.

Speak to your dentist about Peridex, an antimicrobial mouthwash.
See your dentist for treating the recession with gum surgery and cutting any muscle attachments that are causing problems.

Continue with excellent home oral hygiene and regular dental exams. Luckily the surgical treatment of receding gums is very successful in preventing further recession, however it is very difficult to regain any of the lost root coverage so if you notice receding gums, get it looked at soon.
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