Receding gums can be very painful and distressing, and the best thing to do is to discuss this issue with your dentist
. It sounds like the pain your are experiencing is in part related to this exposure of sensitive areas of your teeth. Your are correct that sometimes severely receding gums do require oral surgery
, but this can be a very involved process and hopefully you won't need to get to that point. The main offender for people who suffer from receding gums is overly vigorous brushing. If you use a regular toothbrush (ie nonelectric) this can be even easier to do because unlike the electric toothbrushes which are designed not to brush gums, you can easily be too vigorous with a regular toothbrush and wind up scrubbing the sensitive gums instead of focusing on the surfaces of the teeth. It is important to brush your teeth twice a day and after any large meals, but you want to make sure that you are focusing on the tooth surfaces only with good brushing technique. In your situation, the best thing to do would be to make an appointment with your dentist for an evaluation to make sure that your gums don't need further attention. In addition, your dentist or dental hygienist can go over proper brushing technique with you.