Do your teeth look like they are getting longer? Are you suffering from sensitivity when you drink hot or cold beverages? These are signs of gum recession. Receding gums are a very common oral health problem, and not one that is always cause for concern. However, if you are experiencing gum recession, it is important to understand why it is occurring and what the potential risks may be. Most importantly, is there anything you can do to stop, slow or reverse the progression of your gum recession?
What is Gum Recession?
Gum recession refers to the retreat or pulling away of gums from the base of your teeth. In most patients, this is a gradual occurrence and doesn’t happen overnight. Your gums, however, serve important roles in protecting the exposed roots of your teeth and helping to keep your teeth in place. When these soft tissues pull away or recede, it can leave more your smile vulnerable to plaque and bacteria as well as cause periodontal pockets to form. This can set the stage of cavities and gum infection (or periodontal disease). If left untreated, this can make gum recession worse and lead to bone and tooth loss in severe cases.
What Causes Gum Recession?
Your gum recession may not be something you can control, or it may be addressed with a simple habit change. There are many factors that can cause the gums to recede, including:
- poor oral hygiene habits: not brushing or flossing enough can cause gum disease
- gum disease (gingivitis or periodontitis): the build-up of plaque and bacteria on the teeth can cause the gums to become infected and recede
- smoking or tobacco use: chemicals can slow the healing process
- genetics: some people are genetically predisposed to gum recession
- tooth grinding during sleep: can irritate the gums or lead to inflammation
- brushing too hard: irritated gum tissue and causes it pull away from the teeth
- hormones: can lead to gum inflammation
Treating Gum Recession
No, the gums will not grow back on their own once they have receded. But that doesn’t mean that a dentist can’t help you avoid the consequences of gum recession. Depending on the cause of your receding gums, Dr. Suway may recommend better brushing habits (gentle but effective techniques), a deep cleaning to reverse gum disease or a gum graft.
If you have noticed that your gums are receding as you age, don’t ignore it. Schedule a checkup with Dr. Wayne Suway in Marietta.