Fighting back against gingival recession

29 April 2023

A look at the causes, implications and treatments.

Gum recession is common among the general population. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how widespread this issue is as many cases go unreported. However, a study that assessed prevalence by examining a number of surveys and other sources concluded that at least 50 per cent of the population are likely to have gum recession.

As such, it’s important for clinicians to understand the mechanisms behind gum recession, the issues it can cause and what solutions are available.

What are the causes?

Gum recession can be caused by a number of factors and behaviours. One of the most prevalent causes is periodontal disease. As bacteria builds and periodontal pockets form, this can lead to the detachment of gum tissue from the dentition, eventually resulting in recession. A recent report by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention states that 47.2 per cent of adults over 30 have some form of periodontal disease, which is why gum recession is so prevalent among the adult population. Genetic susceptibility is also a factor that influences an individual’s likelihood of developing periodontal disease, and therefore gum recession.

Hormonal changes could also play a part in ongoing gingival recession. For instance, female hormones have been linked to certain transformations in periodontal health, and life stages such as menopause could result in changes to gum health, eventually resulting in recession.

An individual’s home oral hygiene routine may also have an impact on gingival recession. It's generally considered that habits such as brushing too hard or using the wrong toothbrush could lead to gingival abrasion and recession. Behaviours such as using tobacco products or uncontrollable habits like bruxism may also lead to gum recession, while items such as lip or tongue jewellery may also contribute to this condition. Even a crooked bite can potentially lead to changes in gum tissue, resulting in recession.

With so many factors at play, it’s easy to see why gum recession is so widespread, but how can it impact people’s lives?

The impact of gingival recession

Typically, advanced gingival recession results in the exposure of root surface. This exposure increases the incidence of root caries, causes hypersensitivity may even lead to further periodontal problems.

Furthermore, there are associated aesthetic issues, too. Receding gums may lead to the formation of defects such as black triangles. These are highly visible, especially if a patient has a high smile line, and like any other aesthetic defect, has the potential to impact people’s self-esteem. The ongoing effect of this is difficult to measure as it will depend on the nature of each individual, but it is widely confirmed that smile aesthetics can be instrumental to people’s psycho-social wellbeing and confidence.

To help ensure patients remain confident about their smile, it’s important for clinicians to know the available options when faced with gingival recession in practice.

Restore aesthetics and confidence

Depending on the severity of the gingival recession in question, there are numerous treatment pathways available. Mild cases, for instance, may be solved through behavioural changes such as improved oral hygiene or the prescription of antibiotics.

Alternatively, some cases will require augmentation, which is achieved through the introduction of graft material or regenerative protein into the affected area. This treatment option should encourage the reformation of affected tissues, including affected bone and gingival tissue.

Although the severity of the case will dictate which treatment options are viable or likely to be the most successful, it’s always wise to ensure that the solutions you have on hand are versatile and high-quality.

Straumann Emdogain is an exceptional option for gum recession cases where regeneration may be possible. A mix of enamel proteins, this solution can be applied to clean tooth root surfaces. Once in situ, it forms an extracellular matrix that stimulates cell regeneration, making it a powerful tool in correcting gingival recession.

Find solutions to common problems

Retreating gingival tissue may be a widespread issue, but that doesn’t mean that it’s insignificant. As this condition can cause so many challenges from both a health and aesthetic standpoint, it’s vital that professionals know how best to treat every case. Investing in high-quality solutions is fundamental in this, as is knowledge of the potential treatment pathways available.


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References available on request.