Receding Gums: Prevention and Treatment
If you’ve noticed an increased sensitivity to heat or cold whenever you eat, you may have gingival recession, otherwise known as receding gums.
Ideally, our gums are thick, healthy and hug our teeth tightly. When gums recede, roots of teeth are exposed which can cause that increased sensitivity as well as a heightened risk of cavities.
There are a number of reasons why gums recede. Genetics cann be to blame when gums are thinner from the start, but bad habits are often the cause of thinning, receding gums. Overzealous brushing, teeth grinding and jaw clenching can cause trauma to gums, which ultimately leads to thinner, weaker, receding gums.
If you’re using too much muscle when you brush your teeth, there’s a simple solution. Always use a soft toothbrush and a gentle approach when you brush your teeth. Brushing gently but more frequently (at least twice a day) is a better approach than vigorously and less frequently.
Grinding teeth and jaw clenching can be addressed with a mouth guard worn at night. Insurance will often cover a portion of the cost, which makes the solution that much easier. Discuss your options with your dentist.
The most common cause of gum recession is probably periodontal disease, which is caused by a build up of plaque on your teeth. Plaque build up is a result of food residue and bacteria in our mouths combining to form a sticky substance (plaque) that isn’t cleaned away frequently enough (infrequent brushing and flossing).
There are several stages of periodontal disease; the least severe is gingivitis. You know you have gingivitis if your gums are tender or bleed when you brush or floss your teeth. Gums may look red, swollen or shiny and be softer than usual. When gums are irritated from plaque buildup, they pull away from your teeth, allowing food particles and bacteria to slip between tooth and gum. Now there’s a real problem that your toothbrush won’t be able to fix.
At that stage, one solution is root planning and scaling, procedures that clean the roots in an attempt to halt the damage.
Periodontal disease that’s progressed further may require a pocket reduction in which your dentist pulls gums back far enough to reach the plaque and tartar on roots.
Soft tissue graft is one treatment option for gum recession caused by periodontal disease or genetically thin gum tissue. Another is a regenerative procedure in which new bone and tissue are encourage to re-grow where needed by applying a specialized substance of enamel matrix derivative or collagen membrane and platelet concentrate.
While these treatment breakthroughs are exciting, it is still much easier for most people to take good care of their teeth and gums every day and to visit a dentist regularly for professional cleaning and check ups.
Call our office if you have concerns about periodontal disease or simply want to schedule an appointment to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible.