Receding Gums & Dentures: Should I be Worried?

We have long understood that with age comes gum recession. To put it more bluntly, we are talking about people getting ‘long in the tooth.’ Where the gum pulls away from the tooth, making the tooth appear longer.

However, this can actually happen at any age, regardless of how thorough you are with your dental hygiene regime. What’s important to know and monitor is if the gum recedes too much then the tooth root becomes vulnerable and the chances of dental sensitivity, decay and other issues increase.

Why Do Gums Recede?

Gum disease is a key contributing factor to gum recession. If gum disease is diagnosed you will be referred to a specialist periodontist for expert management. In fact, as prosthodontists, some of the reconstruction treatments we carry out are needed because gum disease or receding gums are not addressed at the earliest opportunity.

Gum disease is a pathologic condition that can cause the surrounding area to become infected, making the gums more likely to bleed. Gaps form between the gum and the tooth where bacteria can be trapped and build up; if left untreated these affect the root of the tooth. In the end, this can result in further loss of attachment, loose teeth, and teeth falling out or having to be surgically removed.

Physiologic recession has a different cause for exposure of the root surface. This can occur as we get older or in some types of gum presentation where the gum tissue has a thin layer over the outside surface of the tooth.

Sometimes, those people who brush their gums too hard can contribute to receding gums. Being too forceful has the opposite effect of cleaning your teeth and opens up more issues than benefits. Taking gentle action so as to not traumatise the gums is what is needed when brushing either with an electric or manual toothbrush.

Smoking, genetics, and poor-fitting dentures are other factors that contribute to receding gums. Other items known to traumatise gums include tongue, mouth, or lip piercings.

Receding Gums & Dentures

Dentures are designed to rest on the gums, so receding gums can pose a slight challenge when it comes to fitting them. However, prosthodontists can still fit dentures to receding gums with specialist techniques and modifications. Special adhesives or dental implants can help with fitting and the stability of the dentures around areas of receding gums and reduced bone volume. Dentures can also be relined or have soft linings placed in them as the gum tissue volume changes.

Dentures and Bone Loss

Not having enough bone or gum tissue for the dentures to adhere to can significantly affect their fitting and functionality. Lack of adequate bone volume and soft tissue creates a higher chance of denture instability, discomfort, and difficulty with eating and speaking. If there is a significant loss of gum that is needed to have dentures, then alternative treatment options may have to be considered.

A treatment that assists in the long-term success of dentures and receding gums is dental implants. The implants are titanium posts that are surgically placed into the jawbone, which in turn, acts as an anchor for the dentures to fix to. Even with limited bone volume, these options provide the dentures with significantly more stability and a better foundation for fitting the prosthetic teeth.

Dentures can still be worn even if you have bone loss. Just like receding gums and loss of gum tissue, bone loss also affects the stability and retention of dentures. Implant-supported dentures can address this issue and are an option that a prosthodontist will discuss with you if that is the case. Another option that might be considered by your prosthodontist is bone grafting, where bone material is added to the affected area to rebuild bone structure. This procedure is more of a restoration treatment option to restore bone structure anatomically, rather than solely relying on titanium implants to provide a foundation for dentures.

Strengthening Your Gums with Vitamins

Vitamin C helps keep the connective tissues in your gums healthy and strong, which then hold your teeth in place. A chronic lack of vitamin C can cause scurvy, which causes bleeding and bruised gums. However, in more modern times, bleeding gums are more commonly associated with gingivitis, which is an early stage of periodontal disease. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and supplements can boost your vitamin C levels, which will make your gums healthier and stronger.

Vitamin D, or the ‘sunshine’ vitamin is another essential for healthy teeth and gums. Deficiencies in vitamin D can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. The best source of vitamin D is UVB radiation from the sun for a few minutes each day, but other sources include oily fish, salmon, mackerel, and herring.

The elderly are more susceptible to a vitamin D deficiency, which over time, can be a contributing factor to receding gums. According to Gum Disease Australia, a study in Australia found a link between deficiencies in vitamin D and inflammation in the body, which if chronic within the gum area, can destroy bone, ligaments, and subsequent gum recession.

Vitamin K, although not well-known, can help with bone growth and bone density. Similar to Vitamin D, a deficiency can also be related to bone loss and gum recession. Broccoli and Brussels sprouts are high in vitamin K.

Need a Second Opinion?

Dentures are a great option in our later years. However, receding gums are a concern that many face or ask questions about prior to treatment.

If you’re weighing up your options for dentures, make an appointment today to talk to one of our experienced prosthodontists for their opinion.

A second opinion often gives you confidence that you’re making the right decision. If both opinions are similar in treatment and cost, you can have the treatment done with the comfort of knowing two specialists have a similar opinion.

If the opinions are different, it allows you to do more research and ask more questions so you can then make an informed decision on which provider you’ll use.