A common reason people visit the dentist is that they have noticed that their gums are starting to recede. While gum recession is common, that does not mean that receding gums should be ignored. Left untreated, receding gums can have a detrimental effect on one’s oral health.
Causes of Gum Recession
Gum disease is one of the leading causes of gum recession. Broken up into various stages, gum disease begins as gingivitis. Unfortunately, because gingivitis sometimes only presents as sore or bleeding gums, people may not seek treatment until the disease has progressed to more advanced stages. Periodontal disease destroys gum tissue and the supporting bone that holds teeth in place.
Some people are more prone to gum disease than others. According to assorted studies, 30% of people are predisposed to developing gum disease due to their genetics, regardless of their oral health routine. If gum disease and/or receding gums runs in your family, it is important that you let your dentist know about your family history and that you keep up with regular dental check-ups to monitor the health of your gums.
Brushing your teeth too aggressively can cause the enamel to wear down and can cause your gums to recede. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle strokes while brushing your teeth for two minutes two times a day.
Poor Oral Health Routine
One of the best ways you can ward off gum disease and receding gums is by maintaining a proper oral health routine. Not brushing your teeth properly or routinely and not flossing can cause plaque to build up, resulting in the formation of tartar – a hard substance that can only be removed by a professional dental cleaning and that leads to gum recession.
Hormones fluctuate as we age. For women, pregnancy and menopause can both cause hormone fluctuations that make the gums more vulnerable to receding gums.
Those that smoke or use tobacco products are more susceptible to gum recession due to the fact that they are more likely to have plaque on their teeth that can be very difficult to remove.
Bruxism, the medical term for grinding your teeth, can put a lot of force on the teeth. This can lead to gum recession. If you find that you grind your teeth at night, consider speaking with your dentist about wearing a mouth guard while you sleep.
If you have a misaligned bite or crooked teeth, too much force can be placed on your gums and the surrounding bone. This force will cause the gums to recede.
Something that many people may not realize is that piercings of the lip or tongue can rub and irritate the gums to the point where the tissue of the gums is eventually worn away.
Treating Gum Recession
The cause of your gum recession plays a role in treatment. For example, there is no use in treating receding gums caused by tobacco use if the patient is not willing to give up his or her tobacco use.
If the recession is mild, a deep professional cleaning involving root planing and tooth scaling by a dentist may be all that is needed. Usually, antibiotics are also prescribed to kill off any remaining bacteria. If the severity of receding gums is greater than what a deep cleaning can handle due to too-deep pockets or loss of bone, gum surgery may be needed to repair the damage
Preventing Gum Recession
Unless your gum recession is caused by genetics, there are things that you can do to prevent gum recession from occurring:
- Maintain a proper oral health routine by brushing and flossing two times per day.
- Use a softbristled toothbrush when brushing your teeth.
- Speak with your dentist about correcting a misaligned bite.
- Quit smoking or using tobacco products.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
- Visit you dentist twice a year for a professional dental cleaning and a checkup.
- Monitor any oral changes that may occur.
- If you start to notice any early signs of gum disease, like sore, red, and/or bleeding gums, make an appointment with your dentist immediately so that you can avoid gum recession.
By following the tips above and by avoiding the avoidable causes of gum recession, you will have a much better chance of maintaining healthy gums and teeth. For any additional questions or concerns regarding gum recession, speak with your dentist so that you can come up with an oral health routine that is best for you.