Are My Gums Really Shrinking?

Periodontal disease affects about half of adults over age 30 and a whopping 70% of adults over age 65. It’s a leading cause of adult tooth loss, but it can also make your gums recede. 

If you’ve noticed your gums look different lately, you might wonder if your gums are really shrinking. Here, Kevin Miller, DDS, and our team at Dentistry in Paradise in Santa Barbara, California, explain what gum shrinking really means, how you can prevent it, and what you can do about it.

What does it mean if your gums are shrinking?

Your gums don’t shrink in the sense that they just suddenly get smaller. Instead, they appear to get smaller because they recede (pull back), and unfortunately, it’s a common dental concern. As your gums start to pull away from your teeth, it reveals more of your tooth’s roots.

Factors such as age, genetics, aggressive brushing, and gum disease can contribute to this condition. Because your gum tissue doesn’t grow back, it’s important to recognize the signs early of gum recession.

How to know if your gums are shrinking

If you've noticed that your teeth appear longer than before or if you're experiencing increased tooth sensitivity, these could be signs of gum recession. Pay attention to changes in your gum line and any discomfort while eating or brushing. You might feel a stinging and burning sensation when  you brush your teeth if your gums are inflamed.

At Dentistry in Paradise, Dr. Miller and our hygiene team inspect your gums for any signs of trouble during your routine dental exam. Even before your gums shrink, you can look for warning signs. 

Gingivitis, the first form of gum disease, often causes red, puffy gums or gums that bleed easily. Our team can get you started with the right treatment for gingivitis long before your gums start to shrink δΈ€ just another benefit of routine dental exams!

How to prevent gum recession

The best way to reduce your risk of gum recession is to:

Your prevention steps are important because once gum tissue is lost, it doesn’t regenerate.

What are the treatment options for gum recession?

Even with the best prevention steps, gum recession may still occur. That’s because genetics can make you prone to developing thinning gums, and traumatic injuries can also cause gum issues. Both of these risk factors are out of your control. 

The good news is that even if gum recession develops, there are treatments to restore gums back to health. Most importantly, adopt a solid oral care routine and follow through with any recommended treatments to help prevent the gum recession from worsening.

Dr. Miller may recommend treatments such as scaling and root planing or, in severe cases, surgical procedures to restore gum health.

Scaling and root planing

This procedure, which treats gum disease, is sometimes called a “deep clean,” but it’s much more than that. During scaling, an ultrasonic scaler removes tartar and debris from below your gum line. This helps prevent future irritations to your gums. 

During the root planing portion of the procedure, a special tool smooths your tooth roots. This helps your gums to reattach to your tooth roots to protect them.

We use local anesthesia so you don’t feel discomfort during the procedure. Antibiotic medication may be applied during root planing.

Dental bonding

If your gum recession has exposed your tooth root, cosmetic tooth-colored dental bonding may be used to cover your roots. 

Surgical procedures

In severe cases, gum graft surgery can help restore the appearance of your smile. There are a variety of surgical techniques, but in many cases, the graft tissue is taken from the roof of your mouth.

Are you concerned about the health of your gums? Don’t wait for your gums to get worse. Schedule a consultation with the Dentistry in Paradise team by calling 805-967-0272. You can also book your next appointment through our online request form.

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