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Cosmetic Gum Surgery for Receding Gum Tissue
Periodontal problems can sometimes be corrected with cosmetic gum surgery. People usually experience one of two gum problems. Either there is an excess of gum tissue, causing the teeth to appear too short, or the tissue has receded, i.e., pulled back from the teeth. This makes the teeth appear too long and can put the patient at risk for decay and other dental problems.
Why do gums recede?
Sometimes a patient does not have control over the factors that cause gum recession. Women are more susceptible to recession due to hormonal fluctuations such as may occur due to pregnancy or menopause. A genetic predisposition to gum disease may affect up to 30% of the population. Gum recession can also occur due to an underlying medical condition, such as HIV or diabetes.
Other factors that can contribute to receding gums are within the patient's control. Insufficient dental hygiene, such as not brushing or flossing often enough or not getting professional dental cleanings on a regular basis, can cause a buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth. The bacteria found in these substances can inflame the gums, causing them to pull away. Periodontal disease is one of the most common causes of receding gums.
While proper dental hygiene is important to prevent receding gums, it is also necessary for patients to brush in moderation. The tooth enamel can become damaged when a patient brushes too aggressively. The loss of enamel can also cause the gums to pull away from the teeth.
Gum recession typically happens gradually, so that patients may not be aware of it at first. Over time, patients may notice that the teeth appear longer or feel a notch or gap where the gums used to attach. When the gums recede, the teeth can become more sensitive because more of the roots are exposed.
What surgical procedures can treat receding gums?
Restoring the lost gum tissue and returning the mouth to its original appearance may involve two different cosmetic gum surgery procedures.
A gum tissue graft is used to restore the tissue around the teeth where it has receded. It involves taking a graft of tissue from either another area of the gums or from the roof of the mouth and stitching it in the area of recession. Because periodontal disease is a medical condition, a tissue graft is may not be considered cosmetic.
Following a tissue graft, sometimes the appearance of the gums no longer looks natural. The graft may cover up too much of the tooth. People who experience this problem after a tissue graft can undergo a gum contouring procedure. This is a type of cosmetic gum surgery and involves reshaping the gumline by removing excess tissue. A patient may have to wait until the tissue graft has healed adequately before undergoing gum contouring.
Gum recession can occur for many reasons. Sometimes it is an underlying condition beyond the patient's control, while other times it results from patient behavior. In either case, surgical treatment may be able to correct the recession and restore the original appearance of the patient's smile.
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