A receding gum line might frighten you, but you can overcome this problem with the right treatment. Although your gums can't grow back, your dentist might suggest a gum graft to replace any lost tissue. Alternatively, pinhole surgery can stretch your gums and pull them down to conceal any exposed teeth. This is what you should know about receding gums.
[RELATED: Discover anything you need to know about any common dental procedure in our comprehensive guide: Common Dental Procedures Explained.]
Why is Your Gum Line Receding?
There are a number of causes of receding gums. Poor oral hygiene habits like inadequate brushing and flossing increase the risk of plaque, which can build up in your mouth and cause your gums to recede over time. Brushing your teeth too hard can also cause long-term gum damage.
Even if you adopt good dental practices, you might still develop a receding gum line. "Some people may be more susceptible to gum disease," says WebMD. "In fact, studies show that 30 percent of the population may be predisposed to gum disease, regardless of how well they care for their teeth."
Typically, poor dental habits can also result in periodontal disease, which damages the gums and causes them to move away from your teeth. Three out of four adults have some kind of periodontal disease, according to the California Dental Association (CDA).
What are the Side Effects of Receding Gums?
Some of the side effects associated with receding gums include bleeding, especially after you brush your teeth or floss; exposed tooth roots; loose teeth; and bleeding gums. You might also experience bad breath or pain.
"Many people with receding gums have no concern about them early on. Many others are unaware that they have recession," says Medical News Today. "For some, though, the concern may be about appearance, fear of tooth loss or sensitivity due to exposed tooth roots. Assessing concerns about the way gums look may include checking how much of the gums are on show."
Why Can't Gums Grow Back?
While your gums can heal over time, like other types of epithelial tissue, they can't grow back. This doesn't mean that a receding gum line is completely irreversible, though. Your dentist might manipulate any lost gum tissue with a gum graft, a surgical procedure that takes tissue from one part of your mouth and places it over your gum area.
Pinhole surgery, on the other hand, is a minimally invasive procedure that corrects a receding gum line. A dentist will use special tools to stretch your gum and pull it down to hide exposed teeth.
How to Keep Your Gums Healthy
Brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day will improve your gums and overall oral health. Flossing also proves useful — it helps to remove bacteria and food debris in your teeth. Investing in a good mouthwash can also keep your gums healthy. Look for products that contain no alcohol.
"If you are only mildly affected by receding gums, that's great!" says the Colgate Oral Care Center. "Catching it early means that you likely won't require professional treatment to fix it. Your dentist will help you identify the cause and will instruct you in how to address it."
Although your gums can't grow back, there are a number of treatment options for a receding gum line. Visiting your dentist on a regular basis will help you deal with this problem and prevent it from getting worse.