When it comes to oral health, most of us think it’s limited to have clean and white teeth with no cavities. But just as important as flashing a set of pearly whites is maintaining the health and integrity of the gums that protect the roots of your and teeth and hold them in place.
In the absence of proper care, your gum tissue is likely to wear away, making your teeth ultrasensitive and prone to damage.
The gingival tissue contains a moist mucous membrane that is densely packed with blood vessels. This pinkish layer of protective tissue runs over the underlying bone tissue of the upper and lower jaw, forming a barrier between the fragile base of the teeth and invading bacteria or decay-causing plaque.
So long as the jaw bone remains intact, the gums continue to be securely affixed and cover the teeth’s roots and the enamel up to the neck.
Gum recession, or gingival recession, means the margin of the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth, pulls back exposing more of the tooth or the tooth’s root.
The recession of the gum margins opens up small “pockets,” or spaces, between the teeth and gum line, making it easy for disease-causing bacteria to accumulate and granting them easy entry into the bloodstream.
The damage can spread to the adjoining tissue and bone structures of the teeth, severely hampering their integrity and ultimately resulting in tooth loss.
Causes of Gum Recession
Several factors lead to receding gums, including the following:
- The primary cause of receding gums is periodontal diseases, which are essentially inflammatory bacterial infections that ravage the connective gum tissue and bone structure that hold the teeth in place.
- Many people are naturally predisposed to this condition due to genetic factors that make their gingival structure more susceptible to recession, regardless of proper oral hygiene.
- Aggressive tooth brushing with a hard-bristled brush and overbrushing can cause enough wear and tear to your gums for a recession to set in.
- People with attenuated gum tissue due to dental treatment or those naturally born with thin gums are more vulnerable to gum recession.
- Plaque buildup due to insufficient dental care can result in gingivitis or gum inflammation, which paves the way for periodontitis and eventually gum recession.
- Ongoing hormonal changes in the body, particularly in women undergoing puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, can render the gums increasingly sensitive and prone to recession.
- Gum recession can also occur as a result of traumatic injury to the tooth/teeth.
- Crooked and crowded teeth or a misaligned bite can put excessive pressure on the gums and supporting bone structure and can render the jawbone inadequate in providing enough cover to one or more teeth.
- Nutritional deficiencies are also associated with gum recession. For instance, a lack of dietary vitamin C results in a disease called scurvy, which is often associated with such gingival complaints.
- Improper flossing techniques can cause gingival cuts and subsequent recession.
- Use of tobacco products results in the accumulation of sticky plaque that is harder to get off the teeth and adversely affects the mucous membrane lining.
- A tendency to grind or clench your teeth, also known as bruxism, can exert undue pressure on the teeth, causing the gingival margins to pull back.
- Lip piercings or tongue jewelry can rub against the gums and cause them to wear away over time.
Signs and Symptoms of Gum Recession
Gum recession is a common problem and many people are not even aware of it. Some of the initial indicators of gum recession include:
- Tooth sensitivity
- A tooth that looks longer than normal
- Pain emanating from the gum line
- Loose teeth, because the damaged gums cannot hold them in place any longer
- Swollen and tender gums
- Bleeding from the gums after brushing or flossing
- Bad breath
Standard Treatment for Receding Gums
The dentist will conduct an oral scan and determine the extent of gum damage before laying down an appropriate course of treatment. Once the dentist has pinned down the culpable cause of your condition, he/she will prescribe a customized treatment approach.
- If aggressive or incorrect brushing techniques are causing your gums to pull back, your dentist will give you a personal tutorial regarding proper brushing techniques and recommend oral hygiene care tools and products that can help in your case.
- If gum recession is rooted in some periodontal disease, the ideal approach to prevent further damage involves getting your teeth thoroughly cleaned via root planing or scaling.
- Because the exposed roots of the afflicted tooth render it highly sensitive, the dentist can prescribe desensitizing and dentin bonding agents as well as varnishes to make the nerve symptoms bearable.
- Removable gum veneers made of either acrylic or silicone are used to artificially camouflage the lost gum tissue area.
- Orthodontic treatment may be used to rectify and realign the gum margin by gradually repositioning the teeth over time.
- Pink porcelain or composite are employed to fill in the gaps that develop along the gumline. Similarly, a dentist may use tooth-colored composite resins to cover the exposed root of the tooth and close the pockets of space that open up between the teeth.
Alternative Remedies for Receding Gums
Quitting the habits that are within your control can reverse the recession process. Improving your oral care and brushing your teeth more gently can also help a lot.
Also, you can try some simple yet effective home remedies to help receding gums grow back. These natural remedies will help restore your gums and protect them from further damage.
None of these remedies alone is going to fix periodontal disease and the associated gum recession. However, these home remedies could be helpful for someone who has gingivitis (gum inflammation) or someone who has had their periodontal disease treated professionally and is now looking to maintain their gum health and prevent future problems.
Here are 10 home remedies for receding gums.
1. Try Oil Pulling Technique
Touted as one of the most effective traditional methods of maintaining oral health and treating various dental diseases, oil pulling is believed to also help reverse gum recession.
A study published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine reports that oil pulling is highly beneficial for oral health.
To practice oil pulling, always use coconut oil. It works particularly well in forming a protective coating on the teeth and thereby preventing plaque buildup. Coconut oil also takes care of any kind of dental and gum infections.
- Swirl and swish 1 tablespoon of virgin coconut oil in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Spit out the oil (it should have turned thick and milky).
- Rinse your mouth with water. Then brush your teeth as usual.
- Repeat the process daily in the morning on an empty stomach for about 1 month.
You can do oil pulling on a regular basis also to help detoxify your body and keep it healthy.
2. Rinse Your Mouth with Bee Propolis
Bee propolis, the sticky resin that bees use to glue their hives together, is another effective treatment for receding gums.
It is rich in antibiotic and antifungal properties that help get rid of bacteria that can cause a number of dental issues.
A 2013 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that propolis-based preparations have a wide range of applications in various specialties of dentistry due to its rich natural components.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reports that the use of a 2% typified propolis rinse was considerably effective in maintaining adequate oral hygiene.
- Rinse your mouth twice daily with a propolis mouth rinse that you can easily find in your local market or grocery store.
- You can opt to take propolis capsules or tablets. Always consult your doctor before taking supplements.
3. Mouthwash with Baking Soda Solution
Using a mouthwash made from baking soda is one of the most effective ways to keep your mouth free from germs and bacteria and, consequently, prevent gum disease and other problems that lead to gum recession.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association attributes the beneficial effect of baking soda in promoting gingival health to its antibacterial and biofilm-disruptive activity.
- Pour 1 cup of water into a glass or jar.
- Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda.
- Add 4 drops of pure peppermint oil.
- Add 4 drops of tea tree oil.
- Mix the ingredients well.
- Use this solution as a mouthwash twice daily for a few weeks.
4. Massage Your Gums with Aloe Vera Gel
It also has antibacterial properties that ward off oral infections and plaque buildup.
In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, the administration of aloe vera gel resulted in a significant improvement in periodontal condition and can be used as a local drug delivery system in periodontal pockets.
- Massage your gums with fresh aloe vera gel. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes before rinsing it off. Repeat this twice a day.
- Alternatively, swish some aloe vera juice in your mouth a few times and then spit it out. Do this twice daily.
5. Relieve Pain with Turmeric Paste
Turmeric is also very effective in controlling gum recession.
Turmeric contains curcumin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation. Also, it prevents the spread of bacterial activity that causes several oral problems.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology found turmeric mouthwash to be effective in controlling plaque.
- Mix ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder with a little water to make a paste. Apply this paste on your gums with a clean finger. Leave it on for 5 minutes, and then massage your gums gently for 1 minute. Rinse your mouth with warm water. Repeat this twice daily.
- You can also boil a ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder in 1 cup of water. Allow it to cool and use it as a mouthwash once daily.
6. Drink Green Tea
Green tea is another home remedy that you must try for gum recession. It is especially helpful in keeping the teeth securely fastened to the gums, due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
It not only reduces the chance of developing the periodontal disease but also brings down gum inflammation and improves the attachment of gums to the teeth.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of International Oral Health confirmed the antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-collagenase activities of green tea that help preserve and protect periodontal health.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology suggests that green tea promotes periodontal health by reducing inflammation, preventing bone resorption, and limiting the growth of certain bacteria associated with periodontal diseases.
- Drink 1 to 2 cups of green tea daily. To promote oral health, drink it without sugar or honey.
- You can also chew sugarless gum made with green tea.
7. Rinse with Hydrogen Peroxide Solution
It works as a strong antibacterial agent that kills germs and fights gum disease. It will also leave your teeth whiter when used regularly.
For oral health, it is highly recommended to use 3% hydrogen peroxide, which makes for an effective mouthwash.
- Mix equal parts of 3% hydrogen peroxide and water. Rinse your mouth with the solution for a few seconds, and then spit it out. Use it a few times a week.
- Alternatively, mix 3% hydrogen peroxide little by little into 1 teaspoon of baking soda to make a paste. Use this paste to massage your gums and gum line. Finally, spit it out and rinse your mouth. Use it a few times a week.
8. Munch on Indian Gooseberry
Indian gooseberry, also known as amla, can also help rectify receding gums and promote oral health.
The vitamin C and other nutrients in amla help strengthen the gums and support connective tissue health. It combats bacteria in the mouth to prevent tooth decay and cavities and helps prevent bad breath.
A 2014 study published in Pharmacognosy Reviews reports that amla is considered a general rebuilder of oral health in Ayurveda.
- Thoroughly chew 1 to 2 fresh amla fruits daily.
- Also, you can prepare a mouth rinse by mixing 1 tablespoon of amla juice in a ½ cup of water. Rinse your mouth with this solution once daily.
9. Brush Your Teeth with Indian Lilac Paste
Whether you wish to improve the health of your teeth or gums, Indian lilac, also known as neem, can be very effective.
It has antibacterial properties that help maintain oral health by easily destroying bacteria that cause gum disease as well as other oral problems.
In this regard, a 2011 study published in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology found neem to be effective for the treatment of plaque.
- Grind a few neem leaves into a paste. Use this paste to brush your gums and your teeth a few times a week.
- You can also rub the juice from neem leaves on your teeth and gums. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes, and then rinse it off with warm water. Do this once daily.
10. Up Your Vitamin C Intake
A deficiency in vitamin C can cause gum inflammation and bleeding. So, if you have receding gums, you need to keep a check on your vitamin C level to ensure you are not running low on this vital gum-protective nutrient.
Vitamin C is essential for collagen production, the protein “glue” that holds cells together. Vitamin C also helps kill bacteria and works as an anti-inflammatory and healing nutrient.
Moreover, it helps remove plaque and tartar buildup from teeth and gums.
- To get vitamin C, eat fresh vegetables and fruits that are rich in vitamin C, especially dark leafy greens, bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, kiwis, berries, and citrus fruits.
- If you are not getting enough vitamin C in your diet, consider taking a good supplement. Always consult your doctor before taking a supplement.
- You can also use calcium ascorbate, a form of vitamin C available as a powder. Rub this powder on your gums and teeth for a few minutes daily.
Can Receding Gums Grow Back?
Unlike other tissues in your body such as the epithelial skin tissue, your gingival tissue is not capable of regenerating on its own. Thus, once the gumline starts to recede, there’s no natural way to restore the lost tissue.
Most of the standard treatment approach for receding gums thus aim at halting or delaying the progress of this condition. In extreme cases, however, the dentist may prescribe a surgical intervention to help restore your gums by grafting tissue from another site in the mouth.
How to Prevent Receding Gums?
Regular dental checkup by a professional is perhaps the most important prerequisite for safeguarding your oral health and preventing issues such as gum recession.
As the wear and tear of gingival tissue is a slow, gradual process that becomes detectable over time, your dentist is well equipped with the necessary dental tools and knowledge to alert you to any signs of trouble. To that end, your dentist can monitor your gumline across multiple visits for signs of any recession over time.
If he/she notices any signs of periodontitis or bacterial buildup, the dentist may recommend deep cleaning procedures that include root planing and scaling to scrape off the gunk and mitigate the growth of bacteria and the subsequent gum recession.
As far as gumline is considered, there are no set standards for determining what qualifies as normal gingival coverage, particularly in terms of how high your gum should appear on your tooth. Most people do not accord much attention to their gum height and remain blissfully aloof even when their gums start to pull back.
In order to catch this problem early, it is therefore imperative to familiarize yourself with your gumline by periodically checking it out in the mirror. Only when you know the normal appearance of your gums and teeth beforehand would you be able to notice any signs of gingival tissue loss if it does occur.
A healthy lifestyle, timely medical care, and a well-balanced diet are just as important for preserving your gum health as they are for your overall well-being. Moreover, certain preventive measures can also help stave off the problem of receding gums:
- Refrain from flossing too rigorously and in a way that it cuts into your gums.
- Use a soft-bristled brush to clean your teeth twice daily, for at least 2 minutes at a time. Be as gentle as you can when brushing your teeth. Let the bristles do the work, not your arm muscles.
- People who are active smokers or tobacco consumers should do their gums a favor by quitting such nasty habits.
- If you are in the habit of unwittingly grinding your teeth at night, speak to your dentist about prescribing a suitable mouth guard for your condition.
- To rinse your mouth, do not use tap water. Instead, use filtered, bottled, distilled, or mineral water.
- Replace your toothbrush every three months and use only soft-bristled toothbrushes.
- Avoid very hot or very cold food and beverages.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stimulate the production of saliva, which naturally helps kill bacteria.
- Eat calcium-rich foods, such as dairy products, sardines, tofu, salmon, soy milk, cereals, and collard greens.
- If you often have swollen gums, increase your intake of vitamin D to relieve the problem.
- Avoid wearing body-piercing studs on the lip or tongue, as it can rub against the gum tissue, causing a recession.
- See your dentist twice per year, even if you take great care of your teeth and gums.
Risk Factors Associated with Gum Recession
- If thin or weak gums run in your family, you can inherit this characteristic via genes and you are likely to be more susceptible to gingival tissue loss.
- People who smoke cigarettes and use other tobacco products, show a greater tendency to develop this condition.
- Gum recession is a scourge that particularly affects the elderly, making age one of its prime risk factors. According to the Journal of American Dental Association, an overwhelming 88% of people above the age of 65 experience a receding gum in at least one tooth.
- People with diabetes have also been found to be increasingly prone to this problem.
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