Receding Gums

Why are gums important?

Gums play a vital supporting role in keeping the mouth and body healthy, so although it is the teeth that people tend to notice first, without the strength and cushioning gums provide, people would not withstand the pressure of biting or chewing.

Looking after the gums is equally as important as looking after the teeth, so following a good mouth care regime should negate the need for any intervention.

However many people do not regularly clean their teeth and may use inappropriate tools for the task, so cause damage by using a hard bristled brush or apply too much pressure to the gum area. People may be admitted to hospital or a care home environment where oral care may not be a high priority and is neglected. This means the mouth and gums can deteriorate over time and may result in pain when trying to eat.

Gums should also be light pink in colour; if they look white or very pale, it may be a sign of anaemia.

What are receding gums and what are the symptoms?

Receding gums is a condition that exposes the root surfaces of the tooth as a result of the gums pulling back from the tooth surface. This is one form of gum disease – also known as periodontal disease.

Symptoms of receding gums includes; bleeding after brushing or flossing, continuous bad breath, sensitive teeth, exposed tooth roots, visibly shrinking gums, loose teeth and red swollen gums

How common is receding gums?

The main cause is actually age with an estimated 88% of people over 65 having receding gums in at least one tooth. Many younger people can suffer with gum recession however, this may be so gradual that it is not noticeable until the root surface starts to appear.

What causes receding gums?

There are many reasons why gums can recede with one of the most common causes being neglect. Poor oral hygiene can trigger infection which will attack the gum tissue and can lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease. However, getting older – despite good mouth care – can cause receding gums. Other reasons include tooth cleaning too vigorously or using a brush with bristles that are too firm. This can damage the gums and subsequently cause tissue trauma.

Pressure on the gums through teeth grinding and a misaligned bite can also result in a receding gum line and in women a change in hormones such as pregnancy or the menopause can result in sensitivity and recession.

Other common causes involve people with diabetes (particularly if the condition is not being well managed) and those who smoke. Habitual smokers often have increased evidence of tooth plaque which is a further cause of gum recession. Hardened plaque (or tartar) is another contributing factor and of course it may be that the family has a history of gum disease.

Slightly less common is tongue piercings which have been linked to chipped teeth and receding gums. Knocking the tongue ring or stud against the teeth continuously will expose sensitive layers underneath the tooth as the enamel is chipped away and a barbell can cause the gums to recede as well as increase the risk of bacterial infections.

What are the consequences of receding gums?

The gums are the key to keeping teeth secure in the mouth. They also keep the teeth in line and act as a shock absorber. In the event of neglect (not tooth brushing regularly using a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day) the gums are likely to bleed when being cleaned and in extreme cases it will result in tooth loss.

Low, loose gums are a sign of gum disease and recession. Exposed roots may become painful as gums help keep bacteria out of the tooth socket so keeping gums pink and healthy will avoid teeth becoming loose, prevent bleeding and stop any oral pain.

Does receding gums cause periodontal disease?

Receding gums can lead to gingivitis and if this goes untreated it can advance to periodontitis where the gums pull away from the teeth to form pockets or spaces that can become infected. It is estimated that periodontal diseases such as receding gums are responsible for about 70% of adult tooth loss.

What happens if gums bleed while brushing?

In the event the gums bleed when cleaning the teeth the best advice is to gently brush the gums in soft, circular motions twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste. After around 7 days, the bleeding will become less and less and will eventually stop altogether.

Other recommendations include flossing at least once a day, using a therapeutic mouthrinse e.g. Gengigel, give up smoking and visit a dentist regularly. A hygienist will be able to provide deep cleaning to clear out bacteria which will allow the gums to heal and re-adhere to the teeth.

Is there a connection between receding gums and Gingivitis?

Gums that become inflamed and appear red and swollen is usually caused by bacteria and is known as gingivitis. This is a mild form of gum disease and can be reversed by daily flossing, brushing and regular visits to a dentist or hygienist.

One of the most common cause of gingivitis is stress; the body produces immune cells to protect against bacteria, but when the body is under stress, this subtle balance can be disturbed. Gum inflammation does tend to increase under stress which can allow bacteria to thrive and hence cause gingivitis.

To relieve receding gums

For receding gums the most appropriate Gengigel products to use is the Gengigel Mouthrinse as swishing it around the mouth will enable you to coat the whole gum area and the natural therapeutic benefits will stabilise further recession. The Gengigel Spray can be targeted directly to the most significant gum recession which will sooth and restore healthy gums.