What can I do about my Gum Recession?

If your gums have receded, then unfortunately, they are not going to grow back unless you have some complicated periodontal (gum) surgery, and this is only necessary in particular circumstances.

Recession as a result of brushing technique alone, generally isn’t that much of a problem. The exposed root surface isn’t covered by the strong enamel layer (containing no nerves), instead it is made of a series of tubes directly connected to the nerve and because of this, sensitivity is often an issue.

There is so much variation here- some people with extensive recession and exposed roots do not seem to have any sensitivity- yet in others, the exposure of even the smallest amount of the root can cause incredible sensitivity to hot and cold, sweet things and most certainly our ultrasonic scalers. Sensitivity from tooth brush abrasion can be dealt with in a few ways and is discussed in treating tooth wear.

If you have just had treatment for periodontal disease, the recession may indicate an area of healing. As the gum inflammation recedes, the root may become exposed but your pocket depth will have been reduced- cleaning will now be easier and more effective. This is a good sign! If you haven’t had any treatment and your gums are receding due to gum disease, the support for your teeth is being lost and you need to see a dentist to get this under control.

Does my Recession need to be filled?

I personally think a lot of dentists are too quick to fill these areas, especially when they are very small. I believe that a lot less plaque is likely to stick to a smooth root surface, than a filling whose margin extends under the gum in that area. The times when you may decide to bond a filling over the recession are:

  • The tooth or teeth are very sensitive and haven’t responded to other treatments. Or where an immediate solution to extreme sensitivity is needed to stop the pain.
  • The wear is significant to the point where the tooth has been notched and is trapping plaque, making cleaning difficult, weakening the tooth or encroaching on the nerve.
  • Where the wear presents a cosmetic problem and the patient doesn’t like the appearance. If a white filling is used, there will be occasions when because of the extent of the wear, the tooth whilst no-longer yellow, does look longer than it should. Note: some newer gum coloured filling materials are being developed that help restore a more natural length to a tooth.
  • To protect the root from further abrasion, if despite repeated efforts to change your brushing technique, the wear is continuing.