Dental Conditions : What Does an Abscess on the Gum Look Like?
What's Causing My Gum Tissue to Swell?
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I have 2-3 mm of gum recession, just on the lingual surface of my maxillary molars. Sometimes the tissue there swells and is very painful and feels raw. I can't seem to associate it with anything I might be doing wrong. I don't brush too hard and I use a Sonicare electric toothbrush. The dentist I worked with said it appeared as if I never had enough of a margin of tissue in that area to begin with. Is this possible and what can be done about this before furcations develop?
— Susan, Texas
Your question is a good one and I'm impressed with your use of dental terminology. Recession of the gum on the lingual, or tongue-facing, surfaces of the upper molars can occur as teeth wear away and extrude or elevate out of their sockets. Gum recession can also occur as teeth move in toward the arch. Usually, teeth shift as a result of braces or if extra space develops because adjacent teeth are removed or fall out.
As teeth move, if any disease is present, sometimes the tissue and bone recedes. Tissue and bone recession may also be caused by braces that were worn in younger years, depending on the position and rotation of the teeth, and also the firmness of your toothbrush bristles and how hard you brush. As you mentioned, recession can also occur from chronic irritation caused by brushing too hard in the area. Swelling can even occur if food, bacteria, or seeds get trapped under the gum. Additionally, if you wear any kind of appliances such as night guards or orthodontic retainers that could rub on the gum, this can cause swelling as well. Obviously, without seeing you in person, it is difficult to determine the exact cause.
I would certainly ask your dentist to refer you to a periodontist to see if there is something that can be done. There are all sorts of gum grafting procedures that may help you to grow some tissue back (or transplant gum tissue in) to cover the roots of your teeth. Grafting on the top of your mouth (the palate) or on the lingual inside surface of the upper molars is very difficult. If you are not in pain and your dentist has measured these defects and found them to be stable, then it might be best to leave them alone. A competent periodontist would be the best person to evaluate your condition further.
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