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What do dentists use to cover receding gums?

Quick Answers

Dentists have several options for covering receding gums, including:

  • Gum grafts – A gum graft involves taking a small amount of tissue from the roof of the mouth or from a tissue bank and stitching it in place over the receded gums.
  • Pinhole surgical technique – Small incisions are made in the gum to place collagen material underneath to help reposition the gum line.
  • Gum contouring – Excess gum tissue can be reshaped and contoured to cover exposed roots.
  • Composite fillings – Tooth-colored composite resins can be bonded to exposed roots to make them look like natural gums.

The best treatment depends on the severity and pattern of gum recession. Mild cases may only require regular cleaning and monitoring, while more advanced recession requires surgery to replace lost gum tissue. Proper home care and quitting smoking can also help prevent further gum loss.

What Causes Receding Gums?

Receding gums, also known as gingival recession, is the exposure of tooth roots due to shrinkage of the gums. This can occur for several reasons:

  • Periodontal disease – Bacterial plaque buildup on teeth leads to chronic inflammation and destruction of gum tissue and bone.
  • Aggressive brushing – Overly vigorous tooth brushing over time can cause abrasion and recession of the gums.
  • Poor oral hygiene – Not properly brushing and flossing to remove plaque allows bacteria to destroy gum tissue.
  • Genetics – Some people are prone to thinner gums that recede more easily.
  • Smoking and tobacco use – Chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage gum tissues.
  • Clenching and grinding – Constant pressure from these habits wears down gum tissue.
  • Misaligned teeth or ill-fitting dentures – Uneven bite forces cause some gum areas to wear away.

Gum recession is a common problem, affecting both children and adults. The earlier it is caught, the easier it is to treat. Left untreated, receding gums can lead to tooth decay, hypersensitivity, and eventual tooth loss.

Treatments for Receding Gums

Several treatments are available to help repair and regrow receding gums:

Gum Graft Surgery

Gum grafting is the most effective way to treat moderate to severe gum recession. It involves taking a small amount of tissue from elsewhere in the mouth and surgically stitching it in place over the receded areas. The grafted tissue then grows together with the existing gums.

There are several types of gum grafts:

  • Connective tissue graft – Tissue from the roof of the mouth or under the tongue is used.
  • Free gingival graft – Tissue is taken from the roof of the mouth.
  • Pedicle graft – Tissue near the receded area is partially raised and repositioned.
  • Alloderm graft – Tissue harvested from cadavers is used.

Gum grafts are effective at halting recession and covering exposed roots. Success rates are over 75% for connective tissue grafts. The new gum tissue is often a slightly different color but blends well over time.

Pinhole Surgical Technique

The pinhole surgical technique is a relatively new, minimally invasive treatment option. Instead of grafting, small pinhole incisions are made in the existing gum tissue. Tools are used to gently loosen the gum and slide it over the receded areas. Collagen or tissue stimulators can be inserted underneath to help stabilize the gum position.

The benefits of this technique include faster recovery, less discomfort, and no need to harvest donor tissue. The results may not be as dramatic as a conventional gum graft, but can effectively cover 1-2mm of recession.

Gum Contouring

For minor recession, a gingivectomy or gum contouring may be performed. This involves reshaping and removing excess gum tissue to help it lie more naturally over exposed roots. It is often combined with scaling and root planing to remove bacteria and tartar.

This simple procedure can provide quick, aesthetic improvement, but does not restore lost gum tissue. The results may only last a few years before further recession occurs.

Composite Resin Fillings

Dentists can also mask the appearance of receding gums using tooth-colored composite resin fillings. The composite material is applied directly to exposed root surfaces to reshape the gumline. A curing light hardens the material into a natural-looking extension of the gum tissue.

This offers an affordable, non-invasive solution for mild gum recession. However, it generally only lasts around 5 years before needing replacement. It does not prevent further gum loss. Combining it with gum contouring can provide the best esthetic outcome.

Home Care

While professional treatment is needed to repair receding gums, good home care is vital for preventing further recession:

  • Gentle brushing – Use soft bristles and avoid aggressive back-and-forth motions.
  • Proper flossing – Curve floss around the tooth sides to avoid snapping down on gums.
  • Antiseptic rinses – Help control bacteria and inflammation.
  • Quit smoking – Tobacco use increases gum recession risk.
  • Healthy diet – Nutrients like vitamin C support gum health.
  • Stress reduction – Chronic stress affects the immune response.
  • Regular dental visits – For plaque removal and early treatment.

Following proper home oral hygiene can help keep gums healthy between professional cleanings. But consistent care is needed, as gum recession is usually a progressive condition.

When to See a Dentist

Schedule an appointment with your dentist or periodontist if you notice any of the following signs of receding gums:

  • Tooth sensitivity or pain when eating hot, cold, or sweet foods
  • Tooth roots becoming visible
  • Changes in your bite alignment
  • Dark, cavitated areas along the gumlines
  • Loose teeth or changed fit of partial dentures
  • Bad breath or persistent bad taste in your mouth

The sooner gum recession is addressed, the better the long-term prognosis. Mild cases can often be treated with minimally invasive procedures. More advanced cases may require extensive grafting or extraction.

Preventing Further Recession

Once gum recession occurs, it can be very difficult to regrow lost tissue. That’s why prevention is so important:

  • Practice impeccable oral hygiene – Brush gently twice per day and floss thoroughly.
  • Get professional cleanings – Regular dental visits allow plaque and tartar removal from below the gumline.
  • Use antiseptic rinses – Reduce bacteria for healthier gums.
  • Monitor at-risk areas – Watch for early signs of recession and request grafting.
  • Stop tobacco habits – Smoking is a major recession risk factor.
  • Protect from grinding – Nightguards buffer force on gumlines.
  • Improve periodontal health – Treat any gum disease to stabilize supporting tissues.

While some gum recession is unavoidable as we age, focusing on prevention and early intervention can help maintain a healthy smile for life.


Receding gums can rob your smile of its beauty and put your oral health at risk. Thankfully, today’s dental techniques make it possible to restore receded gums through grafting procedures or minimally invasive surgery. While professional treatment is needed to cover exposed roots and halt recession, daily oral hygiene is key to preventing further gum loss. With proper home care and early intervention, the effects of gum recession can be minimized for long-lasting dental health.