Gum Recession

So I know that this has very little to do with land or houses but this is my blog after all and I am going to post a little about what has happened to my gums.

Check out what my gums looked like before I did any work on them:

gum recession

When I turned 26 I started to notice that my gums were receding a little behind my bonded retainer. I had this bonded retainer installed after my braces were taken off and it has been there for over 10 years without any problems. Now my tooth care was not that wonderful when I had my braces I will admit. I did not floss for almost 2 years and I only brushed my teeth at night. Once my braces were taken off I started the habit of brushing twice a day and I have only missed 2 days of flossing in over three years. So I would say that my cleaning habits are good. I went to have my teeth cleaned and they told me that I had some recession going on and I should keep up what I was doing except brush softer and in little circles. So that is what I did.

I forgot about going to the dentist and it was over a year before I went back. The told me that my gum recession had gotten worse and I needed to have a gum graft.  If I did not get one I would lose my tooth eventually. I had not ever heard of gum grafting before so I said ok and the dentist made an appointment for a periodontist so I could have my gums cut up and moved around my mouth. I was to pay a $200 fee just to talk to the guy so he could say what he was going to do. I hate paying money to someone that I dont get anything from in return. And what is worse is that the surgery is anywhere from $300 a tooth to over $1000. Crazy. I dont have that kind of money.

The weekend passes and I had written an email to a chiropractor friend of mine saying that I could not help with office work for a bit because I was about to have this gum surgery. My friend tells me that they have low level laser treatments that can help me with my problem. Well now that is a much better option. The laser that they use is non invasive. It just shines on the spot you place it on and helps the area to heal faster.

I canceled my appointment at the periodontist and head over to the chiropractic office. We talk about my problem and then we do a scan that shows me what I have going on in the body. I have all kinds of stuff going on that i did not know about. I had felt that some of my problems areas were not as they should be and I was right on. My blood sugar is way off and my thyroid has some issues going on. They tell me that they can fix my tooth issues but unless I get my internal health better the tooth problem will just come right back. Sounds legit and I also just want to have overall health anyway.

I do a laser treatment and they send me on my way. I am a little sore for the next several hours and they say thats a good thing. Now before I left they told me that I should swish Coconut Oil every day to do something called “oil pulling”. I looked this up and it has been in existence since the Egyptians. Basically the oil just pulls bacteria out of the mouth and aids in healthy teeth and gums. So I started using coconut oil every night for 30 minuets.

nut oil

After two laser treatments I  noticed that my gums are less red and more pink. I think that this is a healthy look for them.  They say that I need at least 6 treatments and possibly 8. After four days of using Coconut oil I have started placing 1/2 a tsp in my mouth at first and letting that sit for about 15min then I spit that out and do the same thing again. This seems to work better because its less oil and allows the first batch to spit out the bad bacteria.

Here is a picture after two lasers:

after 2 lasers

Now after 5 laser treatments my gums have started to look better. I have less to no inflammation and the gums around the teeth are starting to close the gap that they have had for over two years. I am signed up for 6 laser treatments but I have a feeling that I will be doing more like 8. Check out this picture of my teeth after the 5th laser treatment:

laser after 5

While I am at the Dr. I have to lay on a table and place the laser probe on my face. I sit there for an hour most of the time and play on the phone or I just relax. Here is a picture of the laser probe doing what it does:

getting laser

I have finished my original laser treatments and have not seen a tremendous improvement in the recession of the gums but I have seen a major decrease in inflammation. I have been doing a little reading on what gum recession is and I have found a few things out. What most results said was that if you are having recession then you are brushing to hard and you need to floss more. This might be true for most people but with a little more reading I have found that there is more to it than just taking care of your teeth. Several doctors have said that the teeth and gums are the upper part of the gastrointestinal track and they are directly affected by what is happening in your gut. This makes since to me. The old saying “you are what you eat.” So I have been informed by my chiropractor and health coach that I need to reset my gut. Basically I have been eating very poorly for a long time and I have a bacteria called H Pylori in my gut that has gotten out of control and it is making my gut inflamed. Fix the gut and fix many problems.

So how do you reset the gut? Well I have to go on a health food diet for a month. Eating only real foods. Meat, Vegetables, and fruit. I will also be taking a strong probiotic and supplement to stabilize blood sugar. I dont like a lot of real foods because I have gotten the taste for processed foods like grains. I love that morning cereal. As I embark on this health food adventure I will let you know how it goes.

Diet Started:

Well I started eating healthy on Nov 15. The first day was not that bad. I had plenty to eat because I had spent $50 on groceries. The second day was a little more of an issue. I am guessing that grains and scrambled eggs are very filling and I miss them first thing in the morning. Fruits, Vegetables, and meat are good and all but I have to eat all day to keep from feeling hungry. My guess is that when the Good Lord said “man shall not live on bread alone” he still wanted us to have some. 🙂  The supplements that I am taking are not a problem and so far I have not even noticed any change. I am going to start adding more foods to my diet on Dec 15. I sure hope that I can make it that long.

After two months I am almost done with the new diet. The first month I was only able to eat fruits vegetables and meat but in the second month I was allowed to eat rice and beans. That opened up a whole new world of possibilities. I can put away some beans. I feel much better and I think that my gut has made some nice changes in health. One sad thing is that I have changed over to non virgin coconut oil and I realized that it does not have the health benefits of the virgin. I am going to have to order it on the internet.

SO back to the gum recession that started this topic. I have finished my laser treatments and no real change has been made. I did not have to pay for them because there was no change in the recession.  Now we are worried that the bonded retainer is the problem. It might be trapping bacteria that I cant get to with the toothbrush. I called my old orthodontist to ask him some questions but his office is closed for the next 2 weeks.  After a month I call my old orthodontist again and get in touch with one of the assistance.  Now she was very hateful and when I asked if it was possible that the bonded retainer was the issue she snapped back at me that there was no way the retainer was the problem and that I was a stupid idiot for even asking. (ok she did not say I was an idiot but she was hatful)

Lets recap what has happened so far: I had laser treatments and that brought down my gum inflammation a lot but made no changes in recession. I made some major changes in diet and that has been amazing for my health and wellbeing. It has also informed me about Monsanto and the evils of GMO foods. But my gum recession has not changed.

After six months I return to the dentist for my check up and he looks at my gums and tells me again that I need to talk to a periodontist. I cave from my “fix this natural” mentality. I asked my dentist if there was a cheaper periodontist that was also good. He says that there is a guy in Boone NC that is good. So I take his advice and go see a man named Dr. Forbes. What a nice man!  I could not be more thankful that I went to see him.


Well I get to Dr. Forbes office and sign in. I wait about 10min and they take me back to see the Dr. We sit down and he starts taking pictures of my mouth and showing me what the problems are. so here we go:

This picture is the underside of my tongue. The Dr. says that the frenulum is to long and it is pulling down on my gums every time I open my mouth and it is causing the recession on the inside portions of my mouth.  To fix this he only has to cut it and stitch it back together again. I was alright with this little talk. and thought that I would be in and out of this place in no time at all. I knew that most babies have these clipped when they are new borns. I could take the pain that a new born takes. haha

under tongue

But wait theres more. Next the Dr. starts looking at the front of the teeth. He says that he looks for a specific sign to know if I will need a gum graft. In the next picture you are looking at the front of my lower teeth. See the place that the teeth meet the gums? Well that place is supposed to be much whiter and less red. The Dr. explains to me that as bacteria build up in the gums they eat away at the gum tissue as well as the bone underneath. I will have to have a graft. . .

pre front teeth

Surgery time. I schedule a time that i can meet with the doctor for my surgery. He says that the procedure is not going to be too bad and that I would not have to have a driver if I dont want one. My girlfriend says that she wants to go so she can drive. I get into the room and a nurse gives me a numbing cream on the spots that I am to have cut. Then the Dr. Comes in and gives me a few shots in the same places. He pokes around and asks if I can feel what he is doing. I say that I cant. They lean me back in the chair and give a talk about how if at any point I need a break then just give the signal. He starts first with the place below my front two teeth. I can feel the pressure of him pressing and slicing the gums open. Then I start to taste the blood. Its rather odd to see what is going on and taste it but not feel it. This part of the surgery only takes a couple seconds. Next the Dr. starts cutting in the back of my mouth at the donor site. This one was the most “AAHHH” not because it had pain but because it was so hard for him to cut. He did tell me that this spot was tough but that was a good thing because it is a strong place to get skin. after he had cut out the top of the mouth he then started sewing it onto the front of the teeth. It seemed to take a while for him to get this part done. Really these parts were not that bad. After a few minuets he was done with the graft. Then it was time for the frenulum. This was not bad either. I just had to keep the tongue up for about 15min. Here are some graphic pictures of what was done.

front teeth graft  donor spot  undertounge

Below Front Teeth                                              Donor Site                                                     Tongue Frenulum

Recovery: When all the cutting was done the Donor site was superglued closed so that I would not open it when I talked or breathed. I was asked to keep my mouth closed for a few days other than opening enough to eat and clean the teeth. The other two spots had some stitches that would dissolve over a couple days.  For the first couple hours there was no pain. I was given a couple coupons for some free ice cream but since I had just started the new diet I was not going to eat ice cream. But my girlfriend told me of some coconut based ice cream that I could have. we drove to the store and I had some of that good stuff. Eating cold foods is the best after the surgery because it shrinks the blood vessels and keeps the pain down. For the most part I healed fast. It was a pain to clean the teeth but you have to do it. The food that you can eat for a couple days needs to be in small chunks so that you can eat them without chewing. This was the worst part of the whole deal! See what I ate for days:

chapped food

Check out these pictures of the one month post recovery:

final front mouth  final undertounge

                                  Finished Product


After a long time of experimenting I have learned a lot and have for the most part solved my problems. My health has improved so much after changing my diet. I find that I am searching for ways to eat even more healthy. My teeth are a nice pink color and there has been zero recession since the surgery. If you have the right surgeon then this procedure is a piece of cake.



40 thoughts on “Gum Recession

    1. I was able to eat solid food in two weeks. I would say that is a good fully healed mark. If I had eaten the cold foods that I was asked to in the first hours of the recovery I think things would have gone even better.

    1. When you say lingual do you mean the inside of the lower teeth? That place seems to be the same. There is less pulling on the gums so it is doing much better.

  1. Did you end up getting the lingual or the back of your bottom teeth fixed, or basically they just fixed the front and left the back? I have the same problem, my bottom permanent retainer that I’ve had for 14 years seems to be causing issues now, they’ll probably tell me otherwise I bet. Wish I woulda have just had the thing removed, a removable retainer probably would have been much better. Who studies the long term effects of these things anyway.. My teeth haven’t shifted after all these years of being held into place with this stupid wire, but my gums sure want to vacate the premise. It’s been a few years since you wrote this, if you’re still around, can you please get back to me as soon as possible? I would greatly appreciate it.. worried

    1. Looking back I too should have gotten a removable retainer to wear at night. I believe that would have solved a lot of my issues. Honestly it’s just one tooth out of place that is pulling on all the rest. All they repaired was the front gums. The doctor told me there is nothing to attach to on the back. I have a feeling what he meant was at some point you’re going to lose those teeth. When I talked to my old orthodontist he refused to admit that bonded retainers can cause issues but I believe the proof is just under my nose. Haha. So far I have not noticed any serious degeneration in the back since my surgery but I can see it going any day. If you get the surgery be sure to get something cold immediately following. I waited 45 minutes and was in a bit of pain.

  2. Hey, thanks for your fast reply. I have a little in front like you, and it seems like my 4 or so gums on teeth in the back are slowly wearing away. You can’t see the roots yet I don’t think, but worried to death I have gum disease or something, I have obviously been googling like crazy and you really come across a ton of scary stuff. I brush twice a day, mouthwash, floss, don’t drink coffee, rarely soda, don’t smoke. I definitely think this retainer has something to do with it. Oh gosh, don’t say that, I hope toothloss isnt whats in my future or yours 🙁 .. I was looking on Instagram using the hashtag #gumgraft and it seems like there’s a few people that have had a graft on the back portion of their teeth, some wore their gums away by having a tongue ring. It seems like they’re able to do something for the back, so maybe it would be worth looking into a second opinion. I don’t have one of those, but hopefully when I can get in for an appointment they can tell me more. I don’t have insurance right now, so this is a great thing to be happening to me. I feel like this is something that starts happening to a 90 year old, I’m only turning 28

    1. It is all scary stuff! I am sure that being toothless would suck. I guess there are always options like a partial or a bridge. The retainer seems to be the issue. Having a removable retainer might have solved the issue but who knows for sure. When I went to my surgeon said that the back had no tissue that could support the graft. It might have just been my mouth and that is why the others are able to get one. My insurance paid a lot. Might have even been half. Let me know how it turns out. I recommend lots of oatmeal and apple sauce. lots of protein drinks.

  3. So apparently I have moderate gum disease, which is spectacular. I have quite a few 2-5 mm pockets around my teeth and my gums are basically shot from braces and the permanent retainer, and most likely being on birth control didn’t help matters. The gum specialist said he sees it often with patients who have had braces prior. (Really? Wish I would have known that there could be residual effects in the future. What the heck was the point in my parents spending thousands for teeth that who knows how long I will have) My teeth look great besides the recession that is happening and I had no idea that something was wrong till now and it’s like this came out of nowhere. They want to schedule several deep cleanings, and a graft on my front bottom 2 teeth. You were right when they said there’s not much they do for recession behind the teeth I guess. So being someone that has an issue with anxiety, it’s been very tough. I have been constantly worrying about losing my teeth now to the point it’s making me absolutely sick :'( My boyfriend says I need to get another opinion, but I feel so lost and hopeless due to not having insurance, they only cover preventative treatments

    1. I know that it can be stressful knowing that you went through all that agony of braces just to find that the retainer has caused more issues. It has been a while since I had my graft and I have had zero issues so far. The graft is very painful but that only lasts a week or so. The back of the teeth still looks bad but there has not been any more recession. I did not want to go through with this surgery but I am happy I did now that it is over. Just be very carful about what you eat so you don’t make things worse. My issues were not from disease but from a tooth pulling in the wrong direction so its a little different than your issue. hang in there and do get a second opinion.

  4. Mine are like yours now and I’m going to the dentist soon but I don’t now if my dentist will notice
    My mum doesn’t now I’m to scared to tell her I’m only 11 this shouldn’t be happening at my age what shall I do

  5. But I don’t think mine is as bad as yours was
    How long did your situation last mines only been happening for about a week

    1. Mine slowly started occurring over a couple of years. If you are having noticeable recession in only a couple weeks is definitely worth going to see your dentist. And probably talking to your mom as well. Normal recession should not happen until you are old. Mine is because of braces.

  6. Thank you so much for your story. I am so glad to hear that everything is healing great and things are looking up. I too, have a bonded retainer behind my top and bottom teeth and it has caused a lot of recession on my bottom front teeth. I also have two little gaps between my front bottom teeth that really hurt. I am going to the dentist in two weeks but I am scared they will tell me it needs to be pulled or something like that. I am interested in having the graft done as well but I don’t want to remove my bottom retainer as I am scared the teeth will move. Do you think it’s a good idea to still ask? Thank you!

    1. It has been a while now and my gums have not moved. I think the graft was good to keep the gums in place as long as I can. The retainer is the issue. When you go to the dentist I would at least mention it so you can get a few ideas on what you can do. I dont know much about this stuff other than I dont want to lose teeth.

  7. I don’t know how long it’s been going on for but I only started noticing it because i was looking at them and it looked different to normal

    1. I imagine that each person will be different. For me it was necessary to graft the front of the gums to keep them from getting worse. That seems to have stopped the issue for the time being. You might need a graft and you might be fine I cant say. But I do think that it is worth going to have it checked if you have noticed a change in only a short time.

  8. I’m going the dentist in 10 days and I hope he can sort it because I’m really scared that I’m going to loose a tooth

  9. I don’t know how this has happened because I always brush the backs of my teeth so I don’t see how this has happened but all I know is that I don’t want to loose a tooth definitely not at this age and I just can’t stop worrying about it

  10. So have your gums fully grew back now so you can’t see any recession any more because other people say that it just stops the recession

    1. I hear that most of the time this happens to older people but you can get the graft as far as I know. Brushing your teeth too hard can cause this to happen. That is why they always say to go in small circles when you brush. There is some pain after the numbness wears off. The worst part was having to be careful when you eat. Be sure to go get something cold right after you have the surgery.

  11. It seems to be getting better on its own now because I’ve been brushing my teeth twice a day and I’ve been flossing and using mouthwash and I’m still going the dentist so he’ll probably just tell me to keep it up until it gets better

  12. I am in a very similar situation. I have had perio for about 4 years not, but have managed it very effectively with a great oral routine. I am still having issues with recession and a few small black triangles. Did they have to remove the bonded retainer for the gum graph or do they work around it? Is it really worth it? Does it help to close up spaces between teeth? Thank you.

    1. Its good to hear you are having success in managing your recession. So far my recession has stopped or slowed way down. I feel this is greatly from having the frenulum cut. The bonded retainer was left in place. They say the graft was very helpful but I really dont know.

  13. I am 32 years old and have had my permanent retainer on my lower front teeth since getting my braces off in 12th grade. I started noticing gum recession on the front of the the tooth on the left end of the retainer probably a couple of years ago. I’m now pregnant with my second child and it seems like it just keeps getting worse. Blah. Thanks so much for sharing, it’s nice to know that there are other people that are suspicious of their permanent retainers causing gum recession. I’ll be working to get back to the orthodontist soon to get it removed. I’m hoping they can still make me a removable retainer. Last time I was there getting it repaired they told me it was $75 to have it removed. If my insurance doesn’t cover it, I’ll pay out of pocket. I think it’s time to say goodbye to the glue and wire!

    1. HI. It is nice to hear that others are out there with the same issue. My guess is when they installed the retainers back in the day they did not have much research showing how the recession would effect people. I have not noticed any more rescission over the past year but I am sure it could start back at any time. I do hope that removing the retainer solves the issue for you! Even at $75 it would be worth it.

  14. Hi Seth,
    Thank you for your post. This is the only site on several internet searches that relate the lingual bar to gum recession. I just had my permanent lingual bar removed today. I had no recession in 42 years after 2 kids, braces and jaw surgery. In the five years since I had the lingual bar put in, my gums on my lower front teeth have receded approximately 4+ mm. The only thing that changed was getting the lingual bar in. Nothing else was different. I have photos from pre lingual bar to post and my gums look terrible. I think it is because my tongue was constantly rubbing the back of the lingual bar and pushing the gums down – just a constant fidgeting with it and lots of force from the tongue. The orthodontist assistant said there was no way that a tongue rubbing the gums could cause it. I disagree. It is like my tongue was aggressively brushing the back of my gums for 5 years straight. Thank you for your post and if you or any other poster could /do find information on lingual bars and recession, I hope they post it!

    1. I have had a hard time with braces over the years and now with the permanent retainer. I do think my recession is because of the retainer. Like you I called the dr and the assistant said there was absolutely no way the bar could cause recession. Sounds to me like they are covering themselves for a lawsuit haha. My guess is that we are test dummies to see if this works. . . Nope.

  15. Thanks Seth for sharing this, exactly the same thing happened to me except i didn’t ever get a laser. It’s too bad dentists dont really give you any other options or alternatives. To be honest when I looked at your picture on Google I was like oh my god, did my orthodonist take a picture of my teeth! (Your back teeth brace). My teeth look the same with the brace. Anyways thanks for sharing and I’m definitely going to need to take care of my teeth a lot better.

    1. Having gum recession has been a real pain. So far I have not had any more issues this year. I am sorry to hear that you have the same problem. My guess is that the Dr.’s dont care as long as the patient is out of their care. The long term effects of a bonded retainer might not have been known.

  16. Thank you so much for your story Seth. I also have a permanent retainer & the recession on my front two bottom teeth scares me. My teeth are great besides but I were about what’s going to happen. How much better was the rate from the ortho in N.C.? Do you have his info? I appreciate your help.

    1. I do still have them. So far I am good. But the recession is still there. I guess I will always have that.

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