Receding Gum Options

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Our Board Certified Cosmetic Dentist "Dr. Bob" Answers Your Questions!

Dear Dr. Bob:

“As I'm getting older, I'm paying more attention to my teeth. For instance, I am flossing everyday. I wish I had done that my whole life. I'm 41 and for the last couple of years I'm noticing that my gums are starting to become uneven and recede. Is there anything I can do about this? Do I need to go to an oral surgeon? There are two teeth where if feels like the root is almost exposed and there is a big color difference at the top of the tooth. Could this be fixed by getting veneers?”

Delania McGovern, Tulsa

Hi Delania,

Your problem is something seen relatively frequently in patients over 30 years of age. Unfortunately, too many people have been taught from a young age to brush hard with a hard toothbrush to keep their teeth clean. Recession can occur due to a number of reasons and brushing hard or incorrectly is one of them. The best solution to your problem would involve a team approach by your dentist and possibly a periodontist who treats gum problems including the recession of gums. If you have a dentist experienced in cosmetic dentistry, then he or she can determine if perio-surgery to replace the missing gum is possible or if veneers or bonding could solve your problem in an easier, quicker and possibly less uncomfortable way. Your challenge is to find a quality dentist in your area. I recommend calling your local dental society and interview a few recommended dentists in your area. Keep in mind that many of the commercial dental referral companies or agencies you see on TV or hear on the radio will not necessarily refer you to a qualified cosmetic dentist.

In my cosmetic dental practice in New York City, before I do any permanent work in the case of cosmetic dentistry, I do a "smile design mockup" to determine if the treatment plan and smile design I would recommend will be feasible and really correct the problem or the issues the patient may have without them having to go through a major expense and major disappointment. I do the mockup using bonding material that allows the patient to preview the final result without being stuck (literally and figuratively) with something that does not work for them. I apply the material directly to the teeth and shape and sculpt it until the patient is happy with the result. The material pops right off of the teeth without harming them in any way after the visit is complete. This allows you as a patient to see the suggested work first hand, usually with a friend or loved one present so that you can make up your mind if the treatment would be correct or right for you. If your dentist is willing to preview the work he or she would recommend for you using this method, then she probably has a strong artistic and cosmetic dental background and can help solve your problem. Personally, I prefer to approach cosmetic treatment very conservatively and non- or minimally-invasively at first if possible. As a dentist, you can always be aggressive and remove more tooth if necessary to correct problems, but that just makes it easier for the dentist and may not be in the best interests of the patient. I hope I have answered your question. I have more information on my website NYSMILE relating to other dental and cosmetic issues if you are interested.

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