Gum recession may be a sign of gum disease. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss and even heart disease. For early stages of gum disease, we can use a non-surgical gum disease treatment such as scaling and root planing (SRP) or laser dentistry to help maintain your smile. But excessive gum recession may require dental surgery. Exposed roots make your teeth more vulnerable to bacteria, cause tooth sensitivity and an uneven gum line.
For excessive gum recession, we may recommend a gum grafting treatment. There are two types of gum grafts: sub-marginal gum grafts and root coverage gum grafts. A sub-marginal gum graft involves taking gum tissue from another site (usually your palate) and placing it at the gum margin in order to protect the underlying bone with a layer of tougher gum tissue.
During a root coverage gum graft, your periodontist will use the transplanted gum tissue to cover exposed tooth roots. This type of gum graft restores the protective layer that your tooth needs to ward off infection and bone loss; it can also reshape an unsightly gum line.
What Causes Receding Gums?
Attached gingiva and alveolar mucosa are the two types of gum tissues. Attached gingiva is — surprise! — attached to the tooth and underlying bone. It is immovable and fairly resistant to everyday trauma caused by eating and tooth brushing. Alveolar mucosa is the more delicate tissue of the two — located beneath the attached gingiva, alveolar mucosa is loose and allows for movement of the lips and cheeks. Unlike attached gingiva, alveolar mucosa cannot withstand “normal” trauma caused by eating and brushing.
As mentioned earlier, receding gums can be traced to gum disease, but that’s just one cause. Over time, brushing too aggressively can wear down your gums and cause them to recede. People who are born with naturally thin gingiva are most vulnerable to this. Orthodontic therapies can also stretch the gum line. A high frenum attachment can also trigger gum recession. The frenum is the muscle between the upper or lower front teeth; if it pulls on the gum margin, recession may result.
Gum grafting may be recommended to correct a high frenum attachment if the frenum is pulling on your gum margin. During this type of procedure, the frenum is surgically released and a new band of hard gum is added to re-establish the amount of attached gingiva required for support and movement.