Gum recession not only looks unattractive, but it can also cause significant discomfort and pose risk for your long-term dental health. You can safeguard your teeth against this phenomenon once you understand its causes, effects, and treatment options. Keep the following five points about gum recession in mind.
1. Gum Recession May Mean Periodontal Disease
If you see parts of your tooth roots that your gums previously covered, you may struggle with periodontal disease. Approximately half of all Americans over the age of 30 suffer from this chronic condition. It occurs when the immune system produces gum-destroying inflammation in response to bacteria around the gum line.
During the first stage of periodontal disease, a reversal condition called gingivitis, your gums may actually appear overgrown due to swelling and puffiness. However, as the condition advances, the gums shrink and recede from the teeth, exposing the roots and potentially causing the teeth to loosen.
If you think you have any stage of periodontal disease, schedule a dental exam and treatment as soon as possible. Your dentist can remove the plaque and tartar that attract bacteria to your teeth and gums. This treatment may not cure your gum recession, but it can keep it from getting worse.
2. Certain Habits and Practices Can Cause or Worsen Gum Recession
You don’t have to suffer from periodontal disease to develop receding gums. Other habits, some of which you may practice without even realizing it, can also cause or aggravate gum recession. For instance, brushing your teeth with too much force can damage the gums until they recede.
Bruxism, the unconscious habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, may also trigger gum recession. This habit may stem from a variety of underlying causes, from emotional stress and bite misalignment to a sleep disorder. It places extreme stress on the teeth, damaging not only tooth enamel but also surrounding gum tissue.
Many people who have tongue or lip piercings don’t realize that their oral jewelry may contribute to gum recession. Constant or repeated friction from these items can eventually wear away the gum tissue, leaving exposed tooth roots in their wake.
Additionally, if you use tobacco, you raise your risk for gum recession. The tarry substances in tobacco products can make your dental plaque even stickier and harder to remove than usual, making your gums easy prey for periodontal disease.
3. Exposed Tooth Roots Can Cause Problems of Their Own
You need to also take heed of the potential issues caused by the gum recession itself. For instance, plaque can collect on exposed tooth roots that much more easily, increasing your risks for tooth decay in these parts of the tooth (which lack protective enamel).
Exposed tooth roots can also prove highly sensitive to changes in temperature. You may find that cold or hot foods and beverages cause the affected teeth to ache, forcing you to avoid some of your favorite menu items. The loss of gum tissue can also make your teeth appear unnaturally long or otherwise unattractive.
4. Your Dentist Can Treat Gum Recession
Even if you have already developed receding gums to some degree, your dentist can offer treatment options to reverse or minimize the recession. If you don’t have severe gum recession or you simply don’t like how your teeth look, gum-colored restorations can often close ugly gaps and make recession less visible.
Cases of more severe gum recession may call for gum grafting surgery. Your dentist can take a flap of skin from another part of your mouth and attach it to the receding gums. The skin may come from the roof of your mouth or from the gum tissue around a neighboring tooth.
5. Smart Dental Care Practices Can Prevent Gum Recession
Whether you already have receding gums or you merely wish to avoid getting them, some smart home dental care practices can help you steer clear of future problems. Start by modifying your tooth brushing routine as needed. For example, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle pressure to avoid gum injury.
A regular brushing and flossing routine plays a critical role in controlling the amount of plaque that accumulates around (and even beneath) your gum line. The more consistently you pursue this routine, the less trouble you’ll have with bacterial inflammation, gun inflammation, and periodontal disease.
If your teeth show early signs of premature wear due to bruxism, and you know that you have a lot of stress in your life, look into stress-relief techniques that can help you stop grinding or clenching your teeth. You can also ask your dentist to create a custom-fitted night guard that reduces pressure on your teeth and gums.
Valley Oak Dental Group can help you keep your gums and teeth in optimal shape for decades to come. Contact us today with your questions or appointment requests.