By: Stacey Colino
“Receding gums” refers to a loss of gum tissue, which leaves you with uneven gum lines, exposed tooth roots and sensitive teeth. According to Dr. Ramin Tabib, a cosmetic dentist in New York City, although your genetic code may play a role -- especially if thin, fragile gum tissue runs in your family -- the most common causes of receding gums are overly aggressive brushing, periodontal disease (aka gum disease), extremely crowded teeth, or tooth-grinding. Bulimia, the eating disorder that involves self-induced vomiting, can also cause gums to recede.
To manage your gum problem, practice good oral care. Use a very soft toothbrush and brush very gently, advises Tabib. If an overcrowded mouth is to blame, you may want to talk to an orthodontist about whether some type of braces might help. If the recession stems from gum disease, controlling progression of the gum disease can slow or stop the problem.
The only way to truly repair an area that has receded is with a gum graft. This involves a dentist or periodontist taking tissue from the palate of the mouth (or another source) and surgically transferring it to the receded gum area. “It is a difficult procedure. You can never predict what the final outcome will look like,” says Tabib. The healing process may take as long as six months, he adds.
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Stacey Colino is a freelance writer who specializes in health and psychological issues. Her work has appeared in many print and online publications, including Woman’s Day and Prevention. She is a frequent contributor to Completely You.