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What You Need To Know About Gum Recession

gums
smile with teeth and gums

Healthy gums are key to maintaining a healthy mouth. Even if you’re cavity-free and have the whitest chompers in town, that doesn’t mean you’re immune to gum disease. Gums can wear away and leave the roots of the teeth vulnerable to bacteria. If a tooth is in an abnormal position, the gums might also recede around it. This becomes a health concern as it leaves the exposed teeth at risk of infection, decay, and loss.

Fortunately, gum recession can be stopped or reversed with treatment. The earlier you act to protect your gums and teeth, the better. If the recession is severe and starts to cause symptoms, such as tooth pain, sensitivity, or infection, there are various ways you can deal with it. These include tissue grafts, medicating infections, and deep cleaning. Receding gums is a common condition, yet many people fail to notice the changes until they become severe. That’s why it’s important to have regular dental checkups.

Your Gums

The gingivae, or gums, are composed of pink tissue in the mouth that surrounds your teeth at the base. There is one gum for each set of teeth. Beneath its moist surface, the dense gingival tissue has a good supply of blood vessels otherwise known as a mucous membrane. The tissue meets with the rest of the mouth linking but is pink instead of shiny red.

The gums tightly cover each tooth up to the neck and they are firmly attached to the jawbone. When intact, they cover the roots of the teeth and protect them. They typically recede after a person has experienced a loss of tissue in the gum. Since this exposes the fragile base of the teeth, plaque and bacteria may easily cling to the roots and cause decay.

Causes

The top reasons gum recession occurs are periodontal disease and poor oral hygiene. Nevertheless, this condition may also happen in people who take care of their oral health. Inflammation of the tissues and physical wear of the gums are the top causes of receding gums. Some people may be more at risk because of inherited factors. These include the gum thickness and the position of the teeth.

Vigorous tooth brushing wears the gums over time. It may not help to use hard bristles as this worsens the condition. Over-brushing is usually the culprit when dental hygiene might otherwise be good. Since most people tend to use a toothbrush in their right hand, they put more pressure on the left gums. That’s why physical wear of the gums is often at the left side of the mouth. This pattern also affects the side gums more than the front area.

Gums may also be pushed back in a number of other ways through tongue or lip piercings, damage from dental treatment, and misaligned teeth. Some individuals have a higher risk of developing inflammation from receding gums due to having thinner, more delicate tissue. This increases the chances of plaque to promote infection.

When plaque builds up on the teeth, it may lead to the following dental conditions:

  • Periodontitis – This creates a gap between the teeth and gums and initiates the loss of connective fibers and bone surrounding the tooth roots. Bone loss and receding gums may occur.
  • Inflammation of the gums – This condition is known as gingivitis and may cause periodontitis.

Periodontal disease is the usual cause of gum recession. The inflammatory reaction that comes with it causes the loss of the supporting tissue and bone around a tooth. This condition tends to affect all the teeth in a similar way.

Symptoms

Most patients with receding gums may have no complaints at its early stages. In fact, they may not be aware altogether that they have this condition. When things start to escalate, however, patients may experience the following:

  • Fear of losing teeth
  • Concerns about changing appearance, as the tooth looks longer and the space between teeth increases
  • Sensitivity to heat and cold due to exposed tooth roots

It’s important to note that receding gums may only be a symptom of a different problem, like gum disease. Treating it early is crucial as it leaves the patient at risk of tooth decay and tooth loss. Bleeding gums and bad breath may also arise.

Risk Factors

About 88 percent of individuals over the age of 65 have a receding gum problem in at least one tooth. This makes age one of the biggest risk factors for the disease. People who smoke and use tobacco products are also more likely to experience symptoms. Genetics is another factor, as the tendency to have weak or thin gums can be passed on via their genes. People with diabetes also need to watch out for gum recession.

Prevention

You can prevent some of the causes of gingival recession.  The most preventable cause is using a hard-bristled toothbrush or brushing the teeth too strongly. Make it a point to reach for soft-bristled brushes and avoid over-brushing. Instead, apply gentle strokes. Periodontal disease is the product of tartar and plaque buildup, so be sure to maintain good oral hygiene. If you have any concern about your teeth or gums, do not hesitate to visit a dentist for a checkup.

Treatment

Most cases of mild gingival recession do not require treatment. Dental health professionals may advise on prevention and offer to observe the gums. Learning to brush gently and effectively is a good way to stop the gums from being pushed back. For people who do not need treatment, they may opt to have desensitizing agents, denting bonding agents, or varnishes to reduce the sensitivity of the exposed tooth. There’s also a pink composite or porcelain that can be applied to fill the gaps where the gums have receded.

Many studies suggest that the condition of your gums influences your overall health. While gum diseases today is less common than in the past, it still pays to be extra mindful of how you treat your gums. Do your best to prevent gum recession. If you happen to experience any problems, talk to your dentist about possible treatments. There are many options you can consider.