Receding Gums and Periodontal Disease



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What Causes Receding Gums and How is it Treated?

If you or someone you know has receding gums that are swollen, red, and bleed easily, it could be periodontal disease. If you have been diagnosed with periodontal or gum disease, you may have a lot of questions as to what it is and how the disease is treated. At your appointment, you were probably educated about the disease, but it can be overwhelming. Below we hope to clear up any questions you have regarding gum disease.

What is Periodontal/Gum disease?

Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums. Periodontal disease typically starts out as gingivitis which is mild to moderate inflammation of the gums. They can appear red and swollen and bleed easily. Gum disease occurs when plaque and bacteria sit on the teeth and gums. When the plaque is allowed to harden and is not removed by a professional cleaning, gingivitis can turn into periodontal disease fairly quickly.


The gum tissue is the external support structure of your teeth. When you have periodontal disease, this support structure begins to pull away from the teeth so it may appear to you that you have receding gums. When the gums pull away, it creates “pockets.”  These pockets between your teeth and gums trap bacteria causing infection and receding gums.


image illustrating receding gums


This infection not only affects your gums, but it also affects the jaw bone that supports the roots of your teeth keeping them in place. When gum disease progresses without treatment or an improved oral hygiene routine, you will lose bone that supports the teeth causing teeth to become loose. When bone is lost, and gum tissue is loose, teeth can fall out. Check out if smokeless tobacco is harmless.

When gum disease progresses without treatment or an improved oral hygiene routine, you will lose bone that supports the teeth causing teeth to become loose. When bone is lost, and gum tissue is loose, teeth can fall out. Learn how sugar can have an enabling factor of inflammation.


Periodontal Disease Treatment: How is it done?

To treat receding gums caused by periodontal disease, your hygienist or a periodontist (a dentist who specializes in the treatment of periodontal disease) will perform a procedure called scaling and root planing. Scaling and planning is also known as a deep cleaning. A deep cleaning is usually a two-part procedure where one side of your mouth is worked on at a time.

Your comfort is our first priority. We will begin by administering gentle anesthesia. Once you are numb and comfortable, special dental tools will be used to remove the hardened plaque (calculus) and bacteria beneath the gum line. Another tool will be used to smooth out the root of the tooth where bacteria and calculus were attached to make it more difficult for more to reattach. When this procedure is done, your gums should tighten up around your teeth, getting rid of the bacteria-trapping pockets.



man with receding gums

How to keep periodontal disease and receding gums from coming back after treatment?

Unfortunately, gum disease never goes away, but we can keep it stable by doing following things:

  • Coming for professional cleanings called periodontal maintenance every 4 months
  • Brushing twice daily
  • Using Listerine
  • Flossing daily
  • Keeping your diabetes under control. It has been proven that if you have diabetes, you may have a more difficult time keeping periodontal/gum disease under control


Why Can’t I Have a “Normal” Cleaning (Prophylaxis)?

Many patients will ask why a regular cleaning and exam cannot be done instead of the deep cleaning. The reason is because, with  a regular cleaning, our hygienist cannot comfortably clean deep beneath the receding gums to the level that is necessary when you have periodontal disease. If this is not done then the gums tighten around the tooth, trapping the bacteria beneath the gum line.

Trapping the infection is even more detrimental to your teeth and overall health and can cause serious health issues. Periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss. Replacing missing teeth is not a cheap dental procedure. Regular cleanings and good oral hygiene at home can help prevent periodontal disease. But, if you do have periodontal disease, a deep cleaning and periodontal maintenance visits are the cheapest dental procedures and can lead to affordable dentistry in the long run. Click here if you want to learn more about the best probiotics for you.


Check out the “I have Advanced Periodontal (Gum) disease” video


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