Everyone knows that good oral health means taking care of your teeth, but what about problems in your gums? Gum recession is a common condition that occurs so gradually that many people don’t even realize it’s happening until the later stages. Here’s what you need to know about receding gums – their causes, their symptoms, and how they can be treated.
What is Gum Recession and Why Does it Happen?
In gum recession, the gums wear away and expose more of the tooth, which can include the roots; this area is not as well protected and tends to be more vulnerable to decay.
There are many factors that can cause the gums to recede. Oftentimes, the culprit is a periodontal disease, which is a bacterial infection in the gums that can destroy the tissue; genetics and poor oral hygiene can make you more vulnerable to such conditions. Other causes include:
- Overly aggressive brushing and flossing
- Misaligned teeth
- Bruxism (grinding teeth while asleep)
- Gum trauma
What are the Symptoms of Gum Recession?
While the changes caused by gum recession will be hard to notice at first, you’ll eventually notice that your teeth will appear much longer than normal. If the roots have been exposed, you’ll likely experience increased sensitivity to temperature. If gum recession is being caused by an infection, the bacteria under the teeth may cause them to feel loose; other signs of infection include bleeding in the mouth after brushing and flossing, swollen gums and bad breath.
How Can Receding Gums be Treated?
The good news is that if gum recession is caught early enough, it can often be fixed more easily. Your dentist can determine the underlying problem and prescribe an appropriate solution. For example, antibiotics can be used for an infection while a mouthguard might be prescribed for bruxism. You may also be advised to get a new toothbrush or change your flossing habits.
Sometimes professional treatment may be required. For receding gums that are the result of periodontitis (the advanced form of periodontal disease), scaling and root planing can be used to provide a deeper cleaning and resolve the issue. Other times, a gum graft may be necessary; this is when a synthetic particle or a piece of tissue is placed to help the gums grow back.
How Can I Avoid Gum Recession?
Of course, taking care of your gums can often help you prevent recession from occurring in the first place. Good oral hygiene practices – brushing twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and seeing the dentist twice a year – is key; remember to brush gently, and don’t use hard bristles or an abrasive toothpaste. Limiting your intake of sugary foods and giving up smoking can also be beneficial to the health of your gums.
It’s also important to pay attention to any changes in your mouth. If you notice any concerning symptoms, contact your dentist right away; the earlier the problem is diagnosed, the more likely it is that treatment will be successful!
About the Practice
At Ponte Vedra Complete Dentistry, Drs. Eric L. Townshend and Kristopher R. Harth work together to provide comprehensive care for patients. They offer various forms of periodontal therapy for patients with gum disease. To schedule an appointment, visit their website or call (904) 285-7711.