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, it can also be localized and isolated, affecting just one tooth.

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 slowly and gradually with age, which is why it's more common in older people. Sometimes, however, it can progress significantly, leading to rapid and severe loosening of the teeth.

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

1. Gum disease:

The main culprit here is the dental plaque. Plaque is a thin, soft, whitish film that provides a breeding ground for bacteria of various species. For just 1 mg of plaque, there are around ten billion bacteria!

Initially, it forms a thin layer that sticks to the teeth. But if you skip brushing and flossing for a few days, it builds up and forms a thicker layer.

Plaque contains some highly virulent bacteria that can penetrate inside tissues. These can push deep into the gum line, causing inflammation. That's what we call the gingivitis stage. The results are red, bleeding, and sensitive gums.

When inflammation persists and does not clear up, it can have deleterious effects on the tissues surrounding the tooth. This can lead to the breakdown of bone and the ligaments that hold the roots in place, as well as receding gums. This stage is called periodontitis.

As the condition progresses further, 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.

When the frenulum is inserted too close to the gums, it can exert excessive tension, causing the gums to recede at that particular spot.
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 can cause more plaque to build up in the area and promote inflammation. As a result, the tissues supporting the poorly fitting restoration 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 periodontal tissues.

Preventing and treating gum recession in one tooth:

Preventing gum recession starts with improving your oral hygiene practices. Having thin gums or other risk factors does not mean that recession is unavoidable. Rather, it is the plaque and continuous irritation that can trigger and worsen 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:

The spaces between the teeth are hard-to-reach areas by the toothbrush alone. So, cleaning between your teeth should be part of your oral hygiene routine to remove plaque from surfaces your toothbrush cannot access.

You can choose between different tools - dental floss, interdental brushes, or water flossers. Pick the one you feel most comfortable with.

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 will allow you to spot initial signs of gum recession or other oral health concerns and take action promptly. Remember, early treatment is more effective, simpler, and less expensive.

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.

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  3. Etiology and occurrence of gingival recession - An epidemiological study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4753713/
  4. Studies of the predominant cultivable microbiota of dental plaque - ScienceDirect