What is gum recession?
Gum recession refers to the loss of gum tissue originating from lost bone along the gumline. This can occur as a result of periodontal disease, the natural aging process, or abrasive habits when it comes to brushing or grinding the teeth.
When recession of the gum occurs, the body loses a natural defense against both bacterial penetration and trauma. Typically gum recession is not due to an infection, but is due to a lack of protective gum around the teeth. Since the gum lays directly over the bone support of the tooth, every millimeter of gum loss results in the equivalent loss to the underlying, supporting bone. Gum recession is a serious problem when there is tooth sensitivity, compromised esthetics, or when recession progresses due to lack of protective tissue. When gum recession is a problem, gum reconstruction using grafting techniques is often required.
When there is only minor recession, some healthy gum often remains and protects the tooth, so that no other treatment other than modifying home care practices is necessary. However, when recession progresses beyond the protective gum, into the mucosa, the first line of defense against bacterial penetration is lost. Recession and the resultant underlying bone loss can jeopardize long term tooth survival, and in some cases lead to tooth loss.
Why should gum recession be taken seriously?
When gum recession occurs, the root structure of the tooth becomes exposed. This means that tooth decay and other problems can affect the teeth along the gumline and beneath it. Studies have shown that this decay on this exposed root surface is the primary reason for tooth loss as we age. Since healthy gums are essential for a healthy mouth, getting gum recession treated is important for lasting dental wellness.
Soft tissue grafting using patients own tissue, or utilizing donor tissue, is used to cover exposed roots in which esthetics are a concern, sensitivity is present or recession is progressing. It is also utilized to protect against cavities or decay on the root surface, to reduce chronic inflammation, to thicken indentations where teeth are missing or to thicken tissue over roots prior to orthodontic treatment.