Our gums recede naturally as we age. Most older people have some degree of gum recession, but there are a few factors that can speed up the receding process or cause it to start too soon. If your gums are receding, it means the tissue surrounding your teeth is shrinking. Gum tissue pulls back or starts to wear away in the areas immediately surrounding your teeth. Your gums can still look healthy, but if you pay close attention, you may notice more of your tooth has become visible. As the gums recede, gaps, known as pockets, appear between the teeth and the gums. Bacteria thrive in these hard-to-reach pockets and can infect your tooth root. This can easily cause gum disease, infection, and tooth loss.
Gum Recession isn’t Always Obvious
Gum recession usually starts slowly and increases gradually over time. Many people do not notice until their teeth start looking bigger than normal. Some observe the pockets housing extra plaque, and others may experience sensitivity as more of the tooth is exposed. You may even be able to feel ridges on your teeth at the gum line. Remember, receding gums are a normal part of aging, but we can help you slow the process.
Gum disease is the leading cause of receding gums. Practicing good oral hygiene and using the correct tooth brushing and flossing techniques are the best ways to prevent gum disease. If you have sensitive, swollen, or bleeding gums, schedule a dental check-up as soon as possible. Unusually bad breath is another warning sign that disease has set in. Untreated gum disease can cause lasting damage to your gums and teeth and could result in bone loss.
People who smoke or chew tobacco and have poor oral health are more prone to tartar buildup and gum disease.
Brushing Too Hard May Cause Gum Problems
Aggressively scrubbing away at your gums and teeth while brushing is another common cause of gum recession. If you brush your teeth too vigorously or use a hard toothbrush, you are more likely to damage the enamel on your teeth or injure your gums. Hard brushing can cause your gums to recede far more quickly than they should. Switch to a softer brush (preferably soft or medium) and change your toothbrush regularly.
If you think you have been brushing too hard or with the wrong brush, discuss it with us. Proper dental hygiene is imperative, so your dentist will be happy to show you the correct toothbrush and cleaning technique. You can also find YouTube videos that demonstrate the correct bushing technique.
Bruxism (grinding and clenching)
Teeth grinding can be a contributing factor to gum recession. Grinding your teeth can result in damage to your gum’s connective tissue and can cause crooked teeth. If you grind your teeth at night or clench your teeth frequently throughout the day, wearing a custom-fitted mouthguard can help to reduce the impact on your teeth and gums.
If you have family members who have receding gums, you’re more likely to develop them yourself. A variety of factors causes receding gums, and there are steps you can take to stop your gums from receding during the early stages or at the very least slow the process. If receding gums are common in your family, discuss preventative-care options with us.
The treatment for receding gums depends on how severely the gums have receded and how long the problem has gone untreated. Many factors can cause receding gums. Once the underlying cause has been identified, we will suggest some preventative measures. Our hygienists will remove any plaque and tartar that has built up along your gums or in the pockets and demonstrate how to care for your teeth and gums correctly.
Surgical Treatment Plans
If the problem is more severe or has been left untreated for some time, the treatment will be different. Receding gums are a serious concern and can cause other health issues if they aren’t treated. Receding gums can be managed successfully.
There are various surgical treatments for more severe cases of receding gums. They include open flap scaling and root planning, regeneration, or a soft tissue graft.
Practicing good oral hygiene and going for regular checkups are the best ways to prevent receding gums. A healthy diet and lifestyle are also good ways to avoid damage to your teeth and gums. Receding gums are much easier to treat if you catch the problem early. We can help you identify possible causes and suggest some preventative measures. If bruxism is the underlying cause, you may be given a retainer to wear when you sleep or even be shown some relaxation techniques. If poor oral hygiene or incorrect brushing techniques are your problems, we can show you better brushing techniques and help you choose the correct hygiene products for tooth sensitivity.