Receding gums are gums that have pulled away from a tooth, leaving its delicate root exposed. This also creates small spaces where plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, can collect. This can lead to more recession. Left untreated, it can eventually cause bone and tooth loss.
Many things can cause receding gums, including poor dental hygiene, brushing too hard, and aging.
Your gum tissue doesn’t regenerate the way other types of tissue does (like the epithelial tissue of your skin, for example). As a result, receding gums don’t grow back.
Keep reading to learn what you can do to treat receding gums, even if they won’t grow back.
Many people claim that several natural remedies can treat receding gums. Some of the most popular ones include:
- oil pulling
- drinking green tea
- using aloe vera
Each of these remedies can help to improve your oral health. A 2009 study found that swishing sesame oil around in the mouth seemed to help reduce plaque and gum inflammation.
However, the study only involved 20 participants, and they were all between the ages of 16 and 18, long before age-related gum recession starts to set in.
A 2009 article also highlighted the potential benefits of green tea for fighting common bacterial causes of gum inflammation. A 2011 study concluded that applying aloe vera gel just under the gums also reduced bacteria and inflammation. However, the study only involved 15 participants.
While all this research suggests that these natural remedies may be beneficial to your oral health, none of them demonstrated any ability to make gum tissue grow back. There’s no treatment — natural or medical — that can make receding gums grow back.
Even though receding gums won’t grow back, there are still several things you can do to prevent them from receding more. There are also some procedures that can reduce the appearance of receding gums.
Slow down the process
Start by making an appointment with your dentist. They’ll measure how far your gums have receded to determine the most effective next steps. If you have bacteria in the small spaces created by receding gums, they’ll likely start with a deep cleaning procedure called scaling and root planing.
Scaling and root planing involves scraping away tartar from your teeth and under your gum line. It’s done with either a hand-held scraper or an ultrasonic device that uses vibrations to loosen and remove plaque.
In some cases, your dentist might apply a slow-release antibacterial gel under your gum line or prescribe an antibiotic mouthwash.
This is often the first step in treating receding gums, since removing bacteria can slow down and sometimes even halt the process. To maintain the results, you’ll need to follow up with good oral hygiene to avoid future buildups of plaque.
- gently brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush
- flossing in between your teeth daily before brushing
- going in for regular dental cleanings every six months
For more severe cases, your dentist might suggest surgery to remove bacteria that’s deep under your gums or to replace missing gum tissue.
Common surgical treatments include:
- Flap surgery. Your dentist will make a small incision in your gum tissue to lift it up and remove any plaque they couldn’t get to during the scaling and root planing procedure. After they’ve removed the bacteria, they’ll secure your gum tissue in place. This can prevent eventual bone loss.
- Gum graft. An oral surgeon will take gum tissue from another part of your mouth and surgically place it around the receding area. This can both reduce the appearance of receding gums and protect your tooth and bone from future damage.
- Bonding. Gum-colored resin can be placed over the roots of your affected teeth. This both reduces the appearance of receding gums and protects the sensitive roots of your teeth.
Receding gums are a common condition. Even with good oral hygiene habits, aging and genetics can still cause gum loss.
While your gum tissue can’t grow back, there are many treatment options that can help stop or slow down the process.
Work with your dentist to figure out the most effective treatment option based on your general oral health and the amount of recession you have.