Introduction

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re concerned about gum recession and have one very big question — “Can my receding gums grow back?” Unfortunately, the answer is no, your gums can’t grow back naturally. 

Although the human body generally can heal and regenerate lost tissue, this does not apply to your gum tissue. There is no proven way to regenerate eroded gum tissue naturally, even partially. The only way to replace receded gum tissue is through complex surgical options. 

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t prevent receding gums from getting worse. With some simple lifestyle changes, you’ll notice stronger, healthier gums and an end to frustrating recession symptoms.

Dr. Fadi Swaida

Author

Dr. Fadi Swaida first graduated from the University of Western Ontario with an Honors BSc in Biology before graduating from the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Dentistry. He is an active member of his church and enjoys football and being by the water! His outgoing personality and fun-loving character will ensure you always feel welcome at Dentist North York.

What is gingivitis?

The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis, a common and preventable condition typically caused by an excess of germs in and around the gumline. If affected, you may notice abnormal irritation and swelling around affected gum areas, close to the base of the teeth.

Roughly 70 million people in the United States have a gum infection that has advanced beyond early, mild stages of gingivitis.

Although the symptoms of gingivitis are reversible, and future concerns can be eliminated through better oral care and regular dentist visits, do not allow the condition to worsen by ignoring it. If left untreated, gingivitis can quickly evolve into a far more serious oral condition called periodontitis, which can lead to more intensive treatment and repair, as well as tooth loss.

Is gum recession a serious health condition?

Gum recession is indicative of periodontitis, or periodontal disease is a severe gum infection usually caused by inadequate oral hygiene habits. The gums can withdraw from the tooth line, forming unsightly and infection-prone gaps. If they become infected, the underlying tissue continues to erode, making for loose teeth, further infection, and possible tooth loss if not treated promptly. 

If caught early and treated by a professional, these conditions are reversible. However, ignoring or putting off proper treatment can lead to a worsening of these conditions, possibly leading to stronger infections, gum disease, or even tooth loss.

Periodontal disease is also linked to a worsening of other health conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer. 
While the link is not yet fully understood, if you have receding gums, you may be at a higher risk of developing over 120 health conditions.

Symptoms Of Gum Recession

Symptoms of gum recession can include:

  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding after brushing and flossing
  • Tender, red, and/or swollen gums
  • Exposed roots
  • Gums shrinking away from the teeth
  • Gum discomfort
  • Loose teeth

What causes gum recession?

While gum recession itself is not a disease, it can be caused by several issues, including periodontal disease. Some of the most common causes of gum recession include:

Poor oral hygiene

Regular brushing and flossing are crucial to keeping plaque and tartar at bay. When bacteria accumulate on your teeth, they can cause gum disease, which can cause a deep recession.

Brushing your teeth too aggressively

Overly assertive brushing or an improper toothbrush can erode tooth enamel and wear away at the gumline.

Personal diet and habits

Smoking and an unhealthy diet can compromise your immune system, leaving you prone to oral infection and gum recession.

Tooth grinding

Grinding and clenching teeth can put undue stress on your gums, leaving them susceptible to erosion and recession. Many people suffer from unconscious bruxism, which is when they grind their teeth while they are stressed, deep in thought, or asleep.

Age

We may not want to accept it, but our bodies begin to break down over time, and your gums are no exception. Without proper oral care habits throughout your life, aging might dramatically affect your gum health.

How is gum disease measured?

Gum disease is measured by your dentist using a special dental probe.

This probe is placed beneath your gumline at varying spots around your mouth. If the probe shows a pocket between 1-3 mm, this indicates a normal, healthy gumline. If the pocket is 4 mm or deeper, this is usually a sign of gum disease and recession.

Can gum disease be exasperated by other health conditions?

Gum disease can get worse if you have diabetes, heart disease, and pulmonary disorders. Additionally, gum disease can worsen in pregnant women, not because of the pregnancy itself, but because pregnancy weight and hormones can cause other health conditions to flare up or worsen. 

Additionally, women who are pregnant and develop periodontitis are at a higher risk of having a premature birth, a baby with low birth weight, and preeclampsia.

How to avoid gum recession?

Although gum recession isn’t a disease unto itself, it is a serious symptom that could indicate gum disease or other medical conditions. If left untreated, oral infections could begin to manifest in other areas of the body. Thankfully, there’s plenty of ways to stave off these symptoms before things become too severe.

The first step in avoiding gum recession and related oral health issues is to check your mouth regularly for symptoms. As a baseline, know that healthy gum tissue should be pink and firm, with no sensitivity or pain when touched.

Additionally, any discolouration of the gumline should be handled by a dentist as quickly as possible. Don’t take any chances when it comes to your oral health. 

Other things to look for when checking your mouth are:

  • Bleeding (usually after brushing)
  • Heightened sensitivity to certain foods or temperatures
  • Seemingly random aches or pains
  • Uneven wear where the gums meet the teeth

An above-average level of tartar or recession should be addressed by a dentist quickly. A professional can determine if you have gingivitis, periodontitis, or other causes of gum recession. 

Although many believe more abrasive whitening toothpaste can exacerbate gum problems, leading to advanced recession, there’s no indication that the product is a cause of erosion. However, overly aggressive brushing and flossing can irritate the sensitive gum tissue, leading to recession. 

Brush your teeth gently in small circular motions, using a soft-bristled toothbrush, eliminating any extra speed or aggressiveness in your movements. Allow the brush to gently do its job across the entirety of the tooth surface. Do this a minimum of twice daily, preferably after every meal. 

You can use an electric toothbrush with a soft head, which may be ideal for elderly people or those who struggle to reach all areas of the mouth. Be gentle and do not press the toothbrush head too hard against the teeth and gums. 

The best toothpaste for gum disease is one that uses ingredients specifically made for targeting bacteria and reducing bleeding gums. These ingredients include stannous fluoride, sodium cocoyl, erythritol, and zinc citrate.

Will changing my diet help?

A nutritious diet plays an essential role in keeping your body fueled to fight off diseases and viruses. Patients can help target their gum disease and consume foods rich in:

  • Vitamin C
  • Omega-3s
  • Co-Q10
  • Catechins
  • Collagen
  • Beta Carotene

Many of these nutrients have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which help battle the disease—collagen and vitamin C help to heal unhealthy gum tissue. Reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates and sugar, which are linked to increased inflammation. 

Additionally, you can take many of these nutrients like vitamins and supplements, but do not take the supplements and continue to eat foods linked to inflammation. Change your diet and make that change a priority for the rest of your life to keep gum disease at bay.

Treatments

The first step is to make an appointment to see a dentist as quickly as possible. The dentist assesses the severity of your gum recession before making a detailed treatment and prevention plan. 

If the infection and recessions are considered to be severe from the outset, they may immediately move to a deep, thorough cleaning process known as scaling and root planing. This cleaning eliminates any lingering bacteria that might be causing further erosion along the gumline.

Scaling and root planing is a relatively simple procedure that involves scraping of germs and tartar along and beneath the gum line. Traditional treatments involve a handheld scraper tool, but modern technology has allowed for ultrasonic tools to eradicate plaque and tartar quickly.  

Because it provides such a deep cleaning, these techniques can help prevent any further gum recession, since bacteria is one of the primary reasons for tissue loss. But the follow-up treatment will require antibacterial mouth rinses, and improved oral care routines moving forward, so the triggers for gum recession don’t resurface over time.

Are treatments expensive?

The more extensive the treatment, the more expensive it will be. However, some insurances will pay for gum treatment therapies that are causing a serious threat to the health of other areas of your body.

Gum surgery

Depending on the severity of your gum recession, your dentist might forego less-invasive treatments and recommend oral surgery solutions like open-flap scaling and planing. This is an intensive process involving the folding back of existing, affected gum tissue to allow dentists to clean the gums and remove any infected areas thoroughly. 

Once adequately disinfected, the gum tissue is then reattached and allowed to heal. Like any surgery, there is a recovery period following the procedure.

An additional consideration is tissue regeneration, which is another surgical procedure that allows for thorough cleaning of infected areas. However, other steps are involved, including the careful placement of small regenerative grafts (often from the roof of the mouth) that stimulates existing gum tissue to grow as new. 

From there, the body begins healing immediately, leading to a stronger connection at the tooth line, and healthier gums.

Gum graftingy

If the infected tissue is too damaged to regenerate using these methods, your dentist may decide that a full tissue graft from a different part of the mouth should replace it. This is often considered a last resort option, given the nature of the surgery. 

Although it’s an invasive procedure, patients immediately enjoy a healthier mouth with less concern for an additional recession or tooth loss.

Final Thoughts

If you are concerned about possible gum recession and gum disease, talk to your dentist about your oral health. With some intervention from a dental professional and a change in your diet and habits, you can help prevent or stop gum recession.

Dr. Fadi Swaida

Dr. Fadi Swaida first graduated from the University of Western Ontario with an Honors BSc in Biology before graduating from the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Dentistry. He is an active member of his church and enjoys football and being by the water! His outgoing personality and fun-loving character will ensure you always feel welcome at Dentist North York.