By Lee R. Cohen, D.D.S., M.S., M.S.
A common problem for many people is the loss or recession of their gums. This can be caused from a variety of reasons including genetics (let’s blame mom and dad), trauma, poor/
improper oral hygiene or a number of other issues.
What Can Happen:
As the gum recedes, the jaw bone beneath it is also lost. This bone aides in holding the teeth in place. The more the gum recedes, the more the bone deteriorates. People with this type of problem often notice they have longer looking teeth. A number of issues can develop as the gum and bone are lost. As this bone disappears, the support for the teeth goes away, which can ultimately lead to tooth loss. Slowing this bone loss can help preserve your teeth. In addition, as the gum and bone recede, more of the tooth structure becomes exposed. This portion of the tooth called the root is usually hidden under the gum tissue. The root does not have an enamel coating and often gets decay at a faster rate than the crown part of the tooth. In addition, other common complaints related to gum recession include an unpleasant appearance and sensitive teeth.
How It Works:
We are born with 2 types of gum tissue: Thick (like the roof of our mouths) and Thin (like the inside of your cheek). Typically, we have both overlying our teeth. The thick gum is the part present right where the tooth comes out of the gum tissue and helps prevent the gums from receding. As the gum starts to go away we lose this protective zone of tissue. At the same time, the bone that was beneath this area of recession deteriorates. Once all of the thick tissue is lost, we typically see the remaining thin gum and bone disappear at a faster rate.
What Can Be Done:
Gum recession is usually treated to help slow the loss of the underlying jaw bone. The main goal of treatment is to redevelop or increase the presence of the thick tissue. “Soft Tissue Grafting” procedures are used to help develop this thicker tissue. In doing this, we are working to slow or prevent the continued loss of gum and bone. Ultimately, this may help preserve the teeth for a longer period of time. There are a variety of techniques that can be used to help develop this tissue.
In some instances, we are able to not only thicken the zone of tissue, but also bring the gum level back to where it was before it receded (“root coverage”). This is usually done in conjunction with the redevelopment of the thicker tissue. It is not always possible to achieve this root coverage in all circumstances.
Soft tissue graft procedures have been shown to be very effective, but as with any medical or dental procedure success cannot be guaranteed. Enhancing or restoring thick gum tissue can play a major role in delaying the loss of the jaw bone and help prolong the life of the teeth involved. A thorough periodontal evaluation is needed to determine the best treatment option for each individual situation.
Lee R. Cohen, D.D.S., M.S., M.S., is a Dual Board Certified Periodontal and Dental Implant Surgeon. He is a graduate of Emory University and New York University College of Dentistry.
Dr. Cohen completed his surgical training at the University of Florida / Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida. He served as Chief Resident and currently holds a staff appointment as a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Periodontics and Dental Implantology. Dr. Cohen lectures, teaches and performs clinical research on topics related to his surgical specialty.
The focus of his interests are conservative approaches to treating gum, bone and tooth loss. He utilizes advanced techniques including the use of the Periolase Dental Laser (LANAP procedure) to help save teeth and treat periodontal disease without the use of traditional surgical procedures. Additionally, he uses in-office, state of the art 3D CT imaging to develop the least invasive dental implant and bone regeneration treatment options. Dr. Cohen and his facility are state certified to perform both IV and Oral Sedation procedures. Botox® and Dermal Fillers are also utilized to enhance patients’ cosmetic outcomes.
Dr. Cohen currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the American Academy of Periodontology and formerly the Florida Dental Association. He is past president of the Florida Association of Periodontists and the Atlantic Coast District Dental Association. Dr. Cohen is a member of the American Academy of Facial Esthetics. In addition, he has been awarded Fellowship in the American College of Dentists, International College of Dentists and the Pierre Fauchard Academy.
Lee R. Cohen, D.D.S., M.S., M.S.
4520 Donald Ross Road, Suite 110
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418