Receding gums are a real pain, literally in fact as they do get quite sore too. If you are suffering from receding gums it could be an early sign of gum disease but there are other factors that cause it too. Whatever the cause, this is an issue that must be addressed as soon as you notice it. So what causes gums to recede and more importantly, what can be done about it? Let’s get to the root of the problem!
Gum recession is exactly what it sounds like. When it happens the gums wear away towards the root, exposing more and more of the tooth as it goes. The consequences are as dire as you can imagine. Pockets open up for harmful bacteria to breed in, tissue and bone get damaged and ultimately you lose your teeth. Fortunately, most people pick up on it before it gets to this stage but it is a gradual process so you need to keep an eye on it.
Here are the symptoms to look out for:
- Redness of the tissue.
- Sensitive teeth.
- Teeth appear longer than usual.
- A notch where the edge of the enamel meets the exposed root.
- Spaces between teeth appear larger.
- Bad breath
More often than not gum recession is an indicator of periodontal disease and there are a number of factors that cause it.
- Plaque – You know the story by now. When plaque is allowed to build up on teeth it can destroy tissues and inflame the gums. This only gets worse over time if left alone.
- Bad Brushing – If you don’t brush hard enough you may leave debris or bacteria behind, and if you scrub too hard you may damage your gums and wear away the surface of your teeth.
- Not brushing or flossing – Alternatively if you just leave your teeth alone then the bacteria in your mouth will run wild. Not flossing also increases the chances of a build up between your teeth.
- Bad nutrition – Sugars and acids can be particularly damaging and should be eaten in moderation. Brushing afterwards is essential but it is best to wait around half an hour as acids weaken the teeth and they need time to recalcify .
- Grinding teeth – Grinding your teeth will wear them down and leave them more vulnerable to damage.
- Tobacco – It isn’t just your lungs that suffer from smoking. Tobacco contains irritants that are damaging to the tissues in your mouth.
- Piercings – Stapling a chain through your face may have seemed like a good idea at the time but piercings near or even in the mouth can rub against the gums.
So now we know what causes this problem, it should be fairly explanatory how we stop it. It all comes down to good, old-fashioned dental hygiene. Bet you didn’t see that one coming did you?
Brushing – First you need to choose a good toothbrush, preferably with soft bristles, then you need to use it properly! Be firm but gentle, there really is no need to scrub. Be thorough as well, make sure you cover all the surfaces.
Flossing- Bacteria loves the small gaps between your teeth and flossing is the best way to get rid of them. Doing this will greatly decrease the risk of gum disease.
Healthy Eating – Fruit and vegetables are good for you, even the acidic ones so don’t cut them out. But unnecessary sugars, such as sweets, should be kept to a minimum . Fizzy drinks are particularly damaging, even if you go for their diet counterparts.
Unfortunately you may find that symptoms persist after making these changes and if this happens then a visit to your dentist is absolutely necessary. There are various treatments available depending on what needs to be done. Sometimes you will need surgery to clean under the gumline and remove any plaque that got down there and damaged tissues can be replaced with grafts in many cases.
However failure to act may result in bone damage and bone loss, and if it gets to a really advanced stage then your only hope will be dentures. So look after your teeth and if you notice any problems, head straight to your dentist!