HomeDental Diagnoses › Gingival Recession / Receding Gums

Gingival Recession / Receding Gums

Gingival recession (receding gums) caused exposed sensitive tooth root to need graft.

Figure 1: This patient complained of a sensitive tooth. The photograph shows receding gums and an exposed tooth root. “CEJ” indicates the cementum-enamel junction, where the white glassy shell of enamel tapers off. Normally, attachment fibers would connect the gums (k) to the darker-colored cementum of the tooth root. The thin zone of gum tissue around the exposed root will not hold up to tooth brushing and food abrasion over time. M is the unattached mucosa, which is thin enough for the underlying blood vessels to show through.

Gingival recession, more commonly called receding gums is a condition in which the attachment fibers holding the gums (gingiva) to the tooth and bone detach or are otherwise compromised, and the tooth root is exposed. The tooth may or may not be sensitive.

Causes of receding gums may include periodontal disease (i.e. bacterial origin), long-term heavy bite stress, or simply unfavorable tooth position in the mouth. For years it has been thought that aggressive toothbrushing may cause receding gums. The current thinking, however, is in favor of bite stress. It is also possible that aggressive brushing and exposure of tooth roots to an acidic environment may aggravate receding gums that began another way.

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Author: Thomas J. Greany, D.D.S. / Editor: Ken Lambrecht

This page was last updated on March 2, 2018.

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