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FAQ:  Receding Gums



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Receding Gums Ask The Dentist Corinne Scalzitti Question:
Gum loss due to toothbrush abrasion: During smoking in my college years my teeth turned yellow.

I brushed my front teeth too hard with hard toothbrushes to try and remove the yellow stain. I can see the roots of a few front teeth due to gum loss.

For the last several years I have used only soft toothbrushes with very little force. Is there a way for the gums to grow back? ... Visitor from MA

Answer:
While your gum recession problems could have been caused by brushing hard, it is probably more likely that you have something called abfractions, which are small, or sometimes large, pieces of tooth that break off of the teeth where they attach to the gums.

This is usually from stress of grinding or clenching your teeth, usually while you are asleep. You could be totally unaware that you are doing this, and not everybody makes noise when grinding.

I would suggest that you have this evaluated by a dentist. If grinding or clenching is the cause, the progress can be slowed or possibly stopped with a dentist-constructed night guard.

Yes, there is a way to "replace" the lost tissue with stronger gum tissue grafted from your palate. This is usually performed by a periodontist (gum specialist) and is called grafting.

One method of grafting that can be done is called the tunnel technique. This is more predictable than simply putting tissue on the areas of recession and hoping that the graft grows in the area. With the tunnel technique, the tissue in the area of loss is split, the existing tissue is pushed up on the tooth, and the graft is inserted into the hole where the tissue was split. In this technique, the new tissue is put into an area where it is surrounded by living tissue.

There are many fine dental schools in Massachusetts, so I would think that somebody there is practicing the tunnel technique. Hope this helps.

Corinne Scalzitti, DMD, MAGD

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