When it comes to your oral health, your gums are just as important as your teeth. One problem that can occur with your gums is called recession. This happens when they pull back or wear away from the teeth they surround, exposing more of each tooth or even their roots. If left untreated, bacteria can build up, leading to permanent tissue damage, possible bone deterioration, and even tooth loss in some cases. Thankfully, this problem can be treated before it progresses, which is why it’s important to know some common signs of recession and why it occurs in the first place.
How Do You Know If Your Gums Are Receding?
Although gum recession progresses slowly, it’s vital to be able to recognize these common warning signs:
- Long teeth: Sometimes it’s hard to notice receded gums, but when the supportive tissue shrinks, your teeth may appear longer than usual.
- Exposed roots: When tooth roots are exposed, it can cause sensitivity and discomfort, especially to hot or cold temperatures. This is a common sign of gum disease or overaggressive brushing.
- Loose teeth: If you’re experiencing receding gums, the bacteria can break down the supportive tissue around your smile, causing loose teeth. If you notice this symptom, contact your dentist right away!
What Causes Gum Recession?
There are numerous factors that can cause gum recession, but the most common is gum disease. This is an infection of the gums, usually caused by poor dental hygiene, that can destroy the gum tissue and bone that holds your smile in place. Early stages can be completely reversed, but if left untreated, it can lead to permanent damage and even tooth loss. Gum disease will typically show up in the mouth with signs like red or swollen gums, tender gums, bleeding gums, and chronic bad breath.
Brushing too hard is another cause of gum recession. When brushing, it’s important to use a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid abrasion. You should also think of brushing your teeth as massaging them rather than scrubbing. Many assume that brushing harder means that they’re cleaning their smile more thoroughly, but it can actually lead to gum recession and enamel damage.
An additional common cause of gum recession is tobacco use. Both smoking and smokeless tobacco can increase the likelihood of sticky plaque collecting on the gumline, eventually leading to recession,
Treatment for Gum Recession
Most gum recession can be treated with some form of gum disease therapy. Antibiotics are often used, but most cases may require a deep cleaning, also called scaling and root planing. This removes plaque and tartar from beneath the gumline while smoothing out your tooth roots, making it harder for bacteria to collect in the future.
Meet the Dentist
Dr. Matthew Nawrocki is an experienced dentist and a board-certified prosthodontist who offers various forms of gum disease treatment to keep his patients healthy and smiling. For any questions, he can be reached through his website or by phone at (904) 272-1588.