An experienced dental billing outsourcing company in U.S., Outsource Strategies International (OSI) provides accurate billing and coding services for dental practices, individual dentists, endodontists, orthodontists, or periodontists.

In today’s podcast, Amber Darst, our Dental Insurance Coordinator, discusses “Gum Recession – Symptom, Diagnosis and Treatment”.

Hey, this is Amber Darst, Dental Insurance Coordinator for Managed Outsource Solutions. I'll be talking a little bit today on gum recession.

Maintaining adequate oral health can be quite challenging, particularly in old age. Gum recession is a common geriatric dental problem that occurs when the gums recede or wear away, exposing the pink tissue that covers the root of the teeth. When gums recede, gaps can form between the gum and tooth, which allows disease-causing bacteria to build up. Also called receding gums, the condition occurs due to poor oral health, which may in turn lead to tooth loss. Treatment for the condition depend on the severity of tissue loss. If left untreated, the surrounding tissue and bone structures of the teeth can be damaged, sometimes resulting in tooth loss. Billing and coding for these dental conditions can be quite challenging. Dental billing service providers who are knowledgeable in the dental codes and related guidelines can easily manage the coding and claim submission processes for dentists.

As per reports from the World Health Organization (WHO), between 15 and 20 percent of adults have severe gum disease. Early identification of symptoms and other associated risk factors that lead to gum problems can help prevent these conditions in the long run.

01:30 Common Causes of Receding Gums

So, some of the causes of receding gums:

There are many factors that can cause the gums to recede and these include – periodontal or gum disease, which is the infection and inflammation of the gums and other structures in the mouth, poor oral hygiene, aggressive brushing over the long term, hardened plaque buildup, which is tartar, smoking or the use of any tobacco product, family history of gum disease, diabetes, hormonal changes in women, crooked teeth, bridges or partial dentures (that no longer fit) and use of certain medications that cause dry mouth and then also certain immune disorders. However, age is one of the primary risk factors that lead to gum recession. Reports from MedicalNewsToday suggest that about 88 percent of people older than 65 years have a receding gum in at least one tooth. In addition, when compared to men, more women tend to develop receding gums.

02:39 Key Symptoms

In most cases, the condition does not display any specific symptoms at an early stage. But as the condition progresses, patients may experience certain symptoms such as –

  • Bleeding after brushing or flossing
  • Bad breath
  • Exposed tooth roots
  • Loose teeth
  • Pain at the gum line
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Visibly shrinking gums and 
  • Changing the appearance of tooth (as the tooth appears longer and the space between teeth increases)
  • Sensitivity to cold and heat due to exposed tooth roots

03:28 Diagnosis and Treatment

In most cases, receding gums can be an early symptom of an underlying dental problem like gum disease and therefore can increase the risk of tooth decay and tooth loss.

Diagnosis of this condition begins with a detailed physical examination to identify the key issues affecting the gums. A dentist may use a probe, which is a process that uses a small, painless ruler to measure the gum pockets. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, normal pocket sizes range between 1 to 3 millimeters and anything larger is a sign of gum disease or periodontal disease.

Generally, most cases of mild gum recession do not require any specific treatment. Dentists or periodontists may provide suggestions for gentle brushing and to monitor the gums. Treatment for receding gums depends on the underlying causes and can help reattach or restore the gum tissue around the teeth. Common treatments include – scaling and root planning, which removes the plaque and tartar from below the gumline, composite restoration, which uses tooth-colored composite resins to cover the surface of the root, and then also using desensitizing agents, varnishes or dentin bonding agents. If an infection is found in the gums, antibiotics may be prescribed by the dentist. Medications like – topical antibiotic gel, enzyme suppressants, antiseptic chips and antimicrobial mouthwash may also be used to treat the underlying problem that is causing gum recession. 

If the initial treatment does not yield the desired results, an oral surgeon may suggest surgery for severe cases of receding gums. Common surgical options include – flap surgery and grafting. Regarded as a deep tissue cleaning, flap surgery help reduce bacteria and tartar buildup within the gums. As part of the surgery, the periodontist lifts the gums and then puts them back in place when the procedure is over. Then is Gum graft surgery (GGS) and this is recommended for persons whose gums are severely receded. This procedure also helps prevent bone loss and the gums from receding any further, and protects the previously exposed tooth roots from decay. There is also a new procedure called the Pinhole Surgical Technique (PST), which is minimally-invasive and it's for mild to moderate receding gums. This procedure involves making a tiny hole in the gum tissue above the exposed tooth root, where the dentist will insert a special tool into the hole to separate the gum from the tooth and stretch and reposition the gum back over the exposed tooth root.

It is estimated that periodontal diseases such as receding gums are responsible for about 70 percent of adult tooth loss. If treated at an early stage, the outlook for early stages for gum disease can be good. Once the gums have receded, they cannot grow back. However, some treatments can reattach and restore gum tissue around the teeth. Maintaining good oral hygiene and attending regular dental checkups can help prevent, slow, or stop gum recession.

Billing and coding for dental disorders can be a challenging process. For accurate and timely medical billing and claims submission, healthcare practices can outsource their billing and coding tasks to a reliable physician billing company.

And that is it. 

I hope this helps. But always remember that documentation and a thorough knowledge of payer regulations and guidelines is critical to ensure accurate reimbursement for the procedures performed. 

Thanks for listening in!