Dr. Moore recently told one of our patients during a check-up that they had an issue with recessive gums and heeded a warning. Her immediate reaction was: “Well, what the heck does that mean?”

Recessive Gums

Often, as we get older, our gums tend to recede (like some hairlines do as well), and it exposes more of the nerve, leaving it unprotected and sensitive. The recession of gums can also be the result of genetics, smoking or aggressive brushing over many years. While it is impossible to reverse the condition, it is possible to manage it through antibiotics, treatments and surgery. According to the Cleveland Clinic, gum recession affects 88% of people over 65, so it is a common problem.

To assess the severity of the issue, a dentist will use a periodontal probe during a routine examination. If your dentist observes 1-3 millimeters of healthy protective pockets around each tooth, you are in the safe zone. If, however, your measurements are between 4-5 millimeters, you will be diagnosed with gum recession.

Sometimes, topical antibiotics, orthodontics or bonding can help reduce the problem. Other times, surgery is the only realistic option. In this case, skin taken from the roof of the mouth is grafted onto the tooth and gums where the receding happens. While this sounds rough, the procedure usually only takes about an hour and most patients bounce back within a week, making a smooth recovery.

If you notice extra sensitivity in your mouth to temperatures, foods and touch, alert your dentist, so they can help assess the root (see what I did there) cause of the problem. From there, you can get an evaluation, have your questions answered and be given more specific guidance for your oral health.