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Gum Recession: Normal vs Not Normal
The appearance of disappearing or shrinking gums can be a little unsettling, especially when it is known or assumed that no active gum disease is present.

Investigating the possibility of "unapparent" gum disease (remember it is a quiet process during early stages-no pain or discomfort) is ALWAYS the smart thing to do.

No Gum Disease

Gum tissue can recede however, due to a variety of reasons that aren't commonly known.

  • Overbrushing (more than twice a day) or excessively abrasive brushing (often used in hope of eradicating symptoms of gum disease) can cause healthy gum tissue to recede

  • Overly aggressive flossing, which can cause bleeding, can cause gum recession and ironically, promote any current instances of gum disease

  • Apparent accumulation of tartar and calculus can "coat" a tooth with an unhealthy thin film of contaminants that causes healthy gum tissue (starting with the papilla) to "move way" (recede)

  • Abfractions: A particular tooth or group of teeth can have occlusal issues that cause a tooth to "hit early" in comparison to adjacent teeth. Bite hehaviors can cause a tooth to actually move excessively that can cause healthy tissue to recede

  • Orthodontic issues: Tiny, imperceptible abormalities of how two opposing teeth operate against each other can cause a lateral (sideways) force that causes a tooth to move in an unhealthy manner can also signal a "recession response" from healthy gum tissue

  • Normal Aging Events: The lower front teeth are routinely susceptible to recessive tissue movements based solely on age ...

Treatment Recommendations

Based on the causal factors outlined above, the following list of recommendations may successfully address unusual gum recession issues.
  • Overbrushing: Use a soft brush rather than hard, brush only twice daily

  • Aggressive Flossing: For sensitive or inflammed tissues, using a water irrigation device such as a WaterPik offers an excellent alternative to traditonal flossing that has become too abrasive

  • Tartar and Calculus: If it has accumulated.... forget the brushing. Talk to your periodontist or dentist about using non invasive ultrasonic instruments that healthfully remove the unwanted accumulations

  • Abfractions: Consult with a dentist or periodontist who is expert at differential diagnosis of unusual occlusal events. Dentist's who have access to TekScan can be especially helpful

  • Orthodontics: Opposing teeth are supposed to "meet" properly, meaning that the biting surfaces are properly centered - if not, consult an orthodontist or reconstructive dentist
  • Normal Aging events: Food preferences play a major part-consult with a Periodontist regarding a tissue level analysis of overall bone and periodontal tissue health and eating behaviors that should be avoided or, at least, monitored closely

Gum Replacement Options

Periodontal tunnel grafting with exogenous tissue graft products (e.g., alloderm) is a popular and successful grafting procedure for may gum recession issues.

Gum grafts for re-covering exposed roots is also popular and popular, using tissue that is best harvested from a patient's palate, to assure maximum success and eliminate common tissue rejection issues.

What Is Available for Me?

The best resource for determining what is possible and what isn't.... is a periodontist who routinely provides the latest advancements in tissue therapies and tissue replacement, when warranted.

Efficient and accurate diagnosis of tissue changes or tissue recession events is crtiical to assure that patient's don't request therapies that may be of limited benefit.

Proper and accurate diagnosis always leads to the best restorative or corrective treatment possible that delivers an outcome that patients typically want.

Editorial Staff

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