In a healthy mouth, gum tissue surrounds your teeth and fits snugly like a glove. However, sometimes, gum tissue can pull away from your teeth, which exposes roots from underneath. This can create a host of problems, including tooth loss.
The symptoms of gum recession
Recessed gums are treatable, but if they are ignored, they can worsen and become harder to treat. It’s important to keep on the lookout for warning signs and symptoms. These include:
- Mouth pain, especially near your gum line
- Teeth sensitive to hot or cold items
- Teeth sensitive while brushing and flossing or during dental cleanings.
- Upper teeth are visible where gums have receded, making them appear longer
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Swollen, red gums
What causes gum recession?
Every gum recession case is different, but there are some common causes. These include:
- Periodontal disease – The leading cause of gum recession is periodontal disease, which is an infection of your gum tissue. Typically, periodontal disease develops as a result of bad brushing and flossing habits. When plaque, which is essentially a film of bacteria, builds up, it hardens on your teeth. This can lead to painful, bleeding gums, tooth loss, and recessed gums.
- Poor oral hygiene – While neglecting oral hygiene can contribute to periodontal disease, giving too much attention to your gums can also cause problems. Aggressive brushing habits, especially with hard-bristled toothbrushes, can also lead to gum recession.
- Genetics – Unfortunately, not all gums are created equal. Gum thickness is a genetic trait, and those born with parent-given thinner gums are more vulnerable to recession than those with thicker gums.
- Bruxism – Also known as teeth grinding, bruxism can cause a host of dental problems, including gum recession. This happens when grinding puts firm, constant pressure on gums. Bruxism can also loosen teeth in their sockets, which exposes pockets where bacteria can collect and cause periodontal disease, which furthers your risk of gum recession.
- Tobacco use – Whether it’s through smoking, nicotine vaporizers, or smokeless products like dip, tobacco use is a leading cause of periodontal disease. Smoking is particularly problematic for gum recession because when tobacco is inhaled, chemicals stick to your gums and teeth and form tartar. Tartar eats away at your gum line and causes it to recess.
- Problematic dentures – If your dentures don’t fit well, they can cause more issues than just difficulty chewing or speaking. If they move around on your gums, they can cause inflammation that leads to gum recession. It’s important to make sure your dentures are snug and comfortable.
Who is most vulnerable to gum recession?
Some demographics of people are more likely to have recessed gums than others. A 2015 study found that gum recession increased in likelihood as subjects aged. The older you are, the more care needs to be taken to prevent problems.
The same study also found that men were slightly more likely than women to experience gum recession, with 60% of male participants having recessed gums as opposed to 40% of female participants.
This being said, the most vulnerable group to gum recession overall are people who don’t develop healthy oral hygiene habits. Let’s explore what you can do to avoid recessed gums.
How to prevent gum recession
In some cases, gum recession can’t be prevented in people who are genetically predisposed toward it. However, if you pay special attention to the dental care required to maintain proper health, you can reduce your risk as much as possible.
- Use a soft-bristled brush to thoroughly clean your teeth twice daily
- Floss once daily
- Avoid all tobacco products
- Use mouthwash regularly
- Visit your dentist for a routine cleaning and checkup at least twice per year
- If you notice any signs of gum recession, visit your dentist as soon as possible
How to treat gum recession
Treatment depends on the cause and severity of the gum recession. If periodontal disease is the cause, the first step of treatment is typically scaling and root planing. During scaling and root planing, your dentist will remove any tartar and plaque from your teeth and root surfaces. This treatment, along with proper at-home oral hygiene, helps minimize the effects of gum disease, including gum recession.
For more advanced stages, a gum graft may be necessary. Gum grafting involves removing a thin piece of gum tissue from another part of the mouth and attaching it where the gum tissue has receded. Gum grafts protect exposed tooth roots from sensitivity and decay.
Making changes in regards to your oral health can prevent further damage and gum recession. If your dentist determines your brushing habits are to blame for your gums receding, he or she will give you tips on how to brush properly. Your dentist may also recommend swapping your toothbrush for a soft-bristled brush.
If bruxism is the cause, you may benefit from a custom-made night guard that protects your mouth from the damage and pressure caused by clenching and grinding your teeth. Or, if ill-fitting dentures are to blame, your dentist can make adjustments to your dentures or remake them for you.
Contact Cobblestone Park Family Dental
Knowing how to stop gum recession is only one piece of the dental health puzzle. Preventative care is the key to maintaining your best oral health. To discuss your dental needs with Cobblestone Park Family Dental, please schedule an appointment with our Oklahoma City office by calling (405) 603-8520 today.