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Causes of Gum Recession: the need for a gum graft

Posted on by Dr. Robert Axelrad (Brampton Dentist)

Gum Grafts

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Please note: the key to understanding this blog is to make you aware that thin bone leads to thin gums.

In the last entry, we mentioned that a gum graft was necessary when there was a loss of gum tissue (or recession has occurred). Now we’ll look at what causes recession.

In most cases, recession does not occur by any fault of the patient; the cause is usually genetic.

Let’s look at the following:
1)    Prominent Roots:  The root of the tooth is anchored into the bone. Ideally, there should be a uniform width of bone around the root for optimal health…this may be a difficult concept to grasp. But, sometimes there isn’t an even amount of bone around the root. This may be because the root is very prominent or bulges out. If so, the ‘width’ of bone on the side of the prominence (or bulge) tends to be thinner. This thin bone usually corresponds with thin gum tissue. When the gums are thin, they are more prone to recession; not a desirable situation.

2)    Muscle attachments:  Try this…pucker your lips together as if you were going to kiss someone. Certain muscles are required to do this ‘action’. All muscles have ‘attachment points’ at which they attach to the bone. In some instances, these attachments are located too close to where the gum meets the tooth. In addition, the attachments may be very large. So, if there is a large muscle attachment that is very close to where the gum meets the tooth, the muscle will tend to pull on the gum. Combine this with thin gums and recession is almost certain.

3)    Orthodontics: as a patient, the primary reason for getting braces is to have straight teeth; a nice esthetic result. To an orthodontist, it’s much more. For optimal oral health, it’s desirable to have an even amount of bone between the roots of the teeth. The teeth are moved around in order to achieve the above. If there is ‘thin’ bone and therefore a thin amount of gum associated with the teeth, and the teeth are moved around (to achieve the desired result), then it is likely that the gums will recede.

4)    Trauma:  As mentioned previously (see blog-proper oral hygiene techniques), it’s always best to use a soft toothbrush. If you use a hard toothbrush, then it’s more likely to cause recession in areas where the gums are thin i.e. prominent.

In addition, oral piercings and partial dentures may also be the cause of gum recession. Poor oral hygiene is also not helpful.

Why?

Why did I write this blog?
Why does one need a gum graft?

I felt it necessary to follow-up my last blog (Gum Grafts) with this one, because if I need to tell someone they need a gum graft, I don’t feel it’s enough to say ‘because you have recession’. But I’m not exactly sure that I got the information across in a way, such that a person with a non-dental background will understand.  After all, who really gets ‘prominent roots’ or the effects of ‘muscle attachments?’

At the same time, the take home message is that there are reasons for a graft and there are reasons why the gums recede….so I figured, why not be thorough at the same time!

Are your gums receding? Do you suffer from gum pain or gum disease?  We can help.  Call us today (905) 791-3867 or e-mail us to book an appointment.

About Dr. Axelrad
Practicing dentistry for more than 23 years, Dr. Robert Axelrad has owned and managed his own dental practice since 1997.  He moved his practice to its current, state-of-the-art dental office in Brampton, Ontario in 2002 to accommodate his growing list of happy patients.

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