Gum recession is where the margin of your gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back or wears away and exposes more of your tooth or root. When you have gum recession, the first sign is gaps or “pockets” that form between your gum line and teeth which makes disease-causing bacteria build up easier. If you don’t have it treated, the supporting bone structures and tissue of your teeth can become severely damaged. This could lead to tooth loss.
It’s important to learn all about gum recession, including its causes, treatments and ways to prevent it.
Causes of Gum Recession
Various factors could cause gum recession, including:
- Periodontal disease: Periodontal disease like gingivitis can cause gum recession. According to the Canadian Dental Association, seven of 10 Canadian individuals will end up with gum disease at some point in their lives. Gum disease can cause gum tissue damage and damage the bone that holds your teeth in place. You need a dental exam if you notice your gums are swollen, red, purple, bleeding or tender. Chronic bad breath and tooth sensitivity are also indicators to visit the dentist. Early stages of periodontal disease aren’t usually painful, so symptoms tend to go unnoticed.
- Hormones: During menopause, pregnancy and puberty, women experience hormonal changes that could cause their gums to recede. Therefore, it’s important to make an appointment with a dentist to see how you can avoid gum recession.
- Genetics: Genetics could also be the culprit of receding gums. Individuals with parents who had gum recession are also predisposed to receding gums. The bacteria of gum recession might pass to children from the parents.
- Brushing too hard: You know you need to brush your teeth to eliminate bad breath and bacteria and maintain a healthy smile. You know daily brushing is important. But, what you might not know is that you could be brushing your teeth too hard. When you brush your teeth too hard, you actually injure your tooth’s enamel and your gums. Even more, brushing too hard can cause gum recession.
- Teeth grinding: Another reason for gum recession is teeth grinding. When you grind, you put extreme pressure on your teeth, which can cause your gums to recede. You might not even realize you grind your teeth until a dentist tells you. If you grind your teeth and it’s causing gum recession, your dentist may recommend you wear a custom-fit appliance at night.
- Using tobacco: Smoking or chewing tobacco can also leave your gums susceptible and lead to gum recession.
- Crooked teeth: Misaligned teeth can make your gum tissues pull in the wrong direction, causing a build-up of tartar and gum recession.
- Injury or trauma: For example, a tongue or lip piercing can rub against the gum tissue, leading to recession. A sports injury or other injury to the mouth or gums can also cause recession.
Tips to Prevent Gum Recession
There are some steps you can take to prevent gum recession.
- Prevent gum disease: Gum disease is more common in adults, but children can develop it too. Your biggest goal should be to avoid gum disease and strive for healthy gums. Brush and floss your teeth daily to prevent gum disease. You should also brush after each meal or snack, preferably. Brush your teeth with a high-quality toothbrush and get a new brush every twelve weeks.
- Learn proper brushing methods: Many individuals don’t realize they brush improperly. Many individuals brush too aggressively. You should use a toothbrush that’s not too abrasive and gentle toothpaste. Brush your teeth gently and be sure to brush at the gum line too. Your dentist or hygienist can show you proper brushing methods.
- Eat healthily: Sugary and starchy foods can increase plaque. A healthy diet can provide the nutrients your gums and teeth need to stay healthy.
- Avoid acidic food and beverages: They might be tempting, but acidic food and beverages can accelerate gum recession. Your teeth enamel may be more resistant to acids, but not the dentin. Exposing the roots of your teeth to beverages like wine, soda and orange juice can drastically damage them in a brief period. Water your juices down if you must drink them.
- Avoid using tobacco: This includes both smoking and smokeless tobacco products.
- Ask about a custom night guard: If you’re grinding or clenching your teeth, ask your dentist about a custom night guard This appliance helps protect your teeth and gums against the damaging effects of teeth grinding. It can help deliver even pressure across your jaw as well as keep your bottom and top teeth from rubbing against each other.
- Visit the dentist routinely: Make sure you schedule and keep your dental appointments. The dentist can detect and treat early signs of gum recession.
How Gum Recession Is Treated
The best thing to do is to try and prevent gum recession from occurring by understanding how it happens and choosing healthy habits that can reduce your risk.
However, sometimes you can’t avoid gum recession, and it needs to be treated to stop the progression and reverse the effects.
There are two main treatments for gum recession:
- Scaling: A common method of treating slight recession is known as root planing. Root planing is a deep cleaning of your teeth below the gumline. It particularly focuses on plaque and bacteria removal from your teeth in the pockets that surround the roots of your teeth and under your gum line.
- Gum grafting: For more severe recession cases, the dentist may suggest a gum graft for repairing damaged gum tissue and restoring a healthy mouth. With gum grafting, the dentist surgically removes the diseased or damaged gum tissue and grafts sections of healthy and delicate gum tissue in place to restore the impacted areas.
Contact Dental Choice for Your Dentistry Needs
At Dental Choice, we strive to make patient care our top priority. We’re one of western Canada’s largest dental groups and we work towards finding innovative ways of delivering restorative, general and cosmetic dentistry for the whole family.