Many seniors experience receding gums as they age. Your gum tissue can slowly wear away over time, causing your gums to pull upwards and away from your teeth. This makes your teeth appear longer and uneven, and it can also expose the root of your tooth. In addition to affecting the cosmetic appearance of your teeth, receding gums can also contribute to tooth decay and gum disease by providing a place for plaque-causing bacteria to hide. To learn more about why gums tend to recede as you age, the problems they can cause, and how you can treat them, read on. 

What Causes Gums to Recede as You Age?

One reason that gums recede as you get older is due to the wear and tear on your gum tissue. Brushing your teeth with a hard-bristled toothbrush can slowly erode your gums at the gumline as you brush the top of your teeth, and eating can also wear away your gums. As the tissue wears away, your gums start to pull upwards, away from your teeth.

Gums also tend to recede with age due to being exposed to plaque-causing bacteria for decades. Plaque near your gumline can cause your gums to become inflamed, and the inflammation can damage your gum tissue.

Do Receding Gums Cause Dental Problems?

When your gums start receding, your teeth may become more sensitive. Your gums normally cover the root of your tooth where your tooth's nerves are located. Your gums help insulate the nerves in the root from hot or cold temperatures. When they pull away and expose the roots, the nerves are more exposed to the hot or cold food that you eat, which can lead to your teeth becoming painfully sensitive.

A more serious problem is that receding gums make oral health problems more likely. As your gums recede, they start to pull away from your teeth. This creates tiny pockets near the root of your tooth where plaque-causing bacteria can hide, and the bacteria can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. You can't reach these bacteria with floss or a toothbrush. In order to remove the bacteria, you'll need to have a deep cleaning performed at your dentist's office. During a deep cleaning, your gums will be lifted up slightly in order to open up the pockets for careful cleaning.

Are There Any Treatments for Receding Gums?

One way that you can restore your gums is to undergo a gum graft procedure. Before the procedure, you'll go through a deep cleaning to make sure there are no bacteria hiding in the gum pockets. Afterward, a dentist will take a small piece of tissue from the roof of your mouth and suture it into your gumline. The grafted tissue will be incorporated into your gum tissue, providing it with a blood supply. This eliminates the pockets in your gums where bacteria can hide, and it also restores the cosmetic appearance of your teeth.

If your gums are receding due to aging, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you'll need to take very good care of your teeth. The pockets that collect bacteria need to be cleaned frequently at your dentist's office in order to reduce your risk of developing gum disease and tooth decay. If you think that restoring your gums would be a good option for you, schedule an appointment with your dentist and ask about undergoing a gum graft procedure to bring your receding gums back to normal with grafted tissue.

Contact a local dental office, such as Signature Dental, to learn more.