What causes gum recession in one tooth and how to treat it?

gum recession in one tooth
Gum recession is a common condition that progresses over time if left untreated. It exposes part of the roots, which, in addition to causing sensitivity, can make your smile look unpleasant.

In its generalized form, it can affect most, if not all, of your teeth. However, when it occurs on a single tooth, it is called localized.

In this article, we will discuss the causes of gum recession in one tooth and how to treat it.

What can trigger gum recession in one tooth?

Gum recession is triggered by two main factors: Trauma and gum disease or a combination of both.

But it's often a combination of multiple factors that make you more likely to be affected.

This condition often progresses gradually, which explains its higher prevalence among the elderly population.

Here's how gum disease and trauma cause the gums to pull away from the teeth:

1. Gum disease:

Plaque, a thin, soft, whitish deposit filled with bacteria, adheres to the surfaces of your teeth and gums. When oral hygiene is neglected, plaque accumulates, providing an ideal environment for bacterial infiltration.

This infiltration triggers inflammation, leading to the breakdown and recession of the gum tissues. This condition is known as periodontitis or periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease not only affects the gum tissue but also targets the bone and ligaments that anchor the tooth in place. So, as gum recession occurs, the supporting structures undergo damage, causing teeth to loosen gradually. In advanced stages, tooth loss becomes a possibility.

Periodontal disease where the gum and bone supporting the tooth are receded

How do I know if my receding gums are due to gum disease?

If your receding gums are due to gum disease, you may also notice one or more of the following signs:

  • Plaque buildup: Excessive plaque accumulation along the gumline is often a strong indicator of gum disease.

  • Gum inflammation: Inflamed gums are characterized by redness, bleeding, swelling, and tenderness.

  • Loose teeth: If you notice your teeth becoming increasingly loose or shifting position, it may be a sign of advanced gum disease.

  • Changes in your bite: As the structures supporting the tooth deteriorate, the teeth may shift position. As a result, your teeth may no longer fit together as they used to.

2. Trauma:

Aside from periodontal disease, gum recession can also occur without any sign of plaque buildup or inflammation. This is the case with trauma-induced gingival recession. It can affect even people who have good oral hygiene.

For instance, if you are brushing your teeth too hard with a hard-bristled toothbrush, you may irritate your gums. They may then gradually pull away from your teeth and reveal the roots.

When a trauma-induced gingival recession occurs on a single tooth, it can be "V" or "U" shaped. Usually, it involves only the front and visible portion of the gum. The gum between the teeth and around the recession looks healthy.

Also, the tissues that hold the tooth in place, including the bone and ligaments, preserve their strength. Thus, you won't lose your teeth in this type of recession.

However, as plaque builds up, inflammatory periodontal disease can set in. The damage can then spread to the bone, making the situation worse.

Therefore, gum recession on a single tooth can be triggered by an inflammatory condition (periodontal disease) or trauma. But it is often the combination of several factors that increases the risk and complicates the situation.

Factors that increase the risk of recession in one tooth:

Factors that increase the risk of gum recession in one tooth include:

1. Anatomical Factor:

The shape and type of your gums by themselves do not directly cause recessions. However, when combined with other factors, they significantly increase the risk.

With triggers, such as gum disease or trauma, people with thin gums are more vulnerable to gum recession. A tooth may also lack bone in certain areas around its root, which further increases the risk.

Another anatomical feature that can cause recession is the labial frenulum. The labial frenulum is a piece of soft tissue that connects the lips to the gums. It is present at the top and bottom of the mouth.

Sometimes, abnormal insertion of the labial frenulum on the gum can apply excessive tension and cause gum recession.
Abnormal frenulum insertion causing the gums to recede

2. Ill-fitting restoration:

A large filling or an ill-fitting crown that extends beyond the gum line can also create irritation. This will cause plaque to build up in the area and promote inflammation. The tissues that support the restored tooth will gradually shrink, exposing the root.

3. Orthodontic treatment:

Orthodontic treatment is not a direct cause of recession but can predispose or worsen the situation. The forces applied by braces to align teeth can cause a tooth to move out of its bony support.
As a result, the tooth is no longer supported by the bone, and the gums become thinner, which increases the risk of recession.

4. Dental crowding:

Crowded teeth can affect the shape of the bone and gums. When a tooth is tilted too far forward, it may lack bone support in the front part. This can lead the gums to thin out and increase the risk of recession.
In addition, a misaligned tooth can make brushing and flossing more difficult, leading to plaque build-up and inflammation.
Further, it can interfere with your bite and cause uneven distribution of chewing forces across the teeth. This can lead to overload and increased stress on the teeth surrounding tissues.

Preventing and treating gum recession in one tooth:

Preventing gum recession starts with improving your oral hygiene practices. Having thin gums does not mean that recession is inevitable. Rather, it is the plaque and continuous irritation that can trigger this problem. Here are some tips to prevent and treat gum recession:

1. Brushing Technique:

Brush your teeth regularly using the correct technique. Opt for a soft-bristle toothbrush and gently brush your teeth in circular motions. Avoid aggressive horizontal brushing, as it can harm your gums. Also, hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, aiming the bristles toward the gum line. This angle allows for effective cleaning of both the teeth and the gum area while stimulating the blood flow.

2. Interdental Cleaning:

Cleaning between your teeth is crucial for preventing plaque buildup and gum recession. Use dental floss or an interdental brush to reach areas that your toothbrush cannot access. By removing plaque and debris from these spaces, you maintain optimal gum health.

3. Regular Dental Checkups:

Make it a habit to visit your dentist regularly, at least twice a year, even if you don't experience any noticeable issues. These checkups allow your dentist to identify early signs of gum recession or other oral health concerns. Early detection enables prompt treatment, which is often more effective and less invasive.

4. Enhance Your Diet for Optimal Gum Health:

A balanced and nutritious diet is not only vital for overall well-being but also plays a critical role in supporting healthy gums and overcoming gingival recession. By incorporating essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals into your daily meals, you can provide your body with the ammunition it needs to combat inflammation, reduce oxidative stress, and boost your immune system.

5. Address Dental Alignment:

Crooked or misaligned teeth can contribute to gum recession by causing uneven distribution of chewing forces and placing excessive pressure on certain areas. Consult with an orthodontist to correct your dental alignment. By aligning your teeth properly, you can improve bone and gum thickness and reduce the risk of gum recession.

6. Ask Your Dentist if You Can Benefit From a Gum Graft:

If gum recession is causing concerns like sensitivity or affecting your smile, inquire with your dentist or periodontist about the possibility of a gum graft.
This procedure involves taking tissue from another area of your mouth or using synthetic materials to cover exposed tooth roots. Gum grafting not only addresses symptoms but also strengthens the gums and prevents further recession, leading to long-term benefits.

  1. Color atlas of dental medicine periodontology
  2. Gingival recession: its causes and types, and the importance of orthodontic treatment https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4944726/
  3. Etiology and occurrence of gingival recession - An epidemiological study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4753713/