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What does it mean if my gums don’t show when I smile?

If your gums are pulling away from your teeth, it can indicate the beginnings of gum disease. Infections in the gums can destroy the gum tissue, causing it to pull back from the teeth. If left untreated, the infection can spread into the bone that supports your teeth.

Another cause for gum recession is improper or inadequate brushing. This allows the plaque that normally forms on teeth throughout the day to harden and turn into tartar. This can only be removed by a professional dental cleaning. When allowed to build up between and on your teeth this can cause gum recession. Likewise, brushing your teeth too aggressively can also cause your gums to recede.

There are a few other, less common causes that could lead to receding gums, including:

  • Hormonal changes – whether from pregnancy, puberty, or menopause, hormone changes can make your gums more susceptible to gum recession.
  • Tobacco use – those who smoke or use tobacco products are more likely to have a buildup of plaque on their teeth that can be difficult to remove.
  • Grinding your teeth – if you suffer from bruxism, or tooth grinding, you put your teeth under far more stress than usual, which can cause your gums to recede.
  • Misaligned bite – teeth that are crooked can place an uneven force on the bone and gums, which can lead to gum recession.
  • Body piercing – if you have your tongue or lip pierced, the jewelry can irritate the gums to the point that the tissue become worn away.

If my gums don’t cover my teeth, what is the treatment?

If the gum recession is mild, your dentist may be able to treat it with a simple deep cleaning. Your dentist will remove the plaque and tartar build up on the teeth and below the gum line. They will also smooth out the tooth root to prevent further infection. You may be given an antibiotic as well.

In more serious cases of gum recession, you may require surgical treatment, which will consist of one of three procedures:

  • Soft tissue graft – your dentist will remove a small flap of skin from the roof of the mouth and remove a small bit of tissue from under the flap. This will then be stitched to the gum tissue and allowed to grow as normal gum tissue.
  • Regeneration – sometimes, receding gums can cause the bone underneath to degenerate. If this happens, your dentist will perform a procedure to regrow the lost bone and tissue. Your dentist will fold back your gum tissue and place a regenerative material in the pocket that will encourage your gum and bone tissue to regenerate on its own.
  • Pocket depth reduction – The dentist will create a pocket in the gum tissue, remove any bacteria that exists below the gum line. The gum tissue will then be placed over the tooth root and secured.

If your gums don’t show when you smile, call Dr. Kenneth Hill at 702-897-7267 for a consultation.


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