Long in the Tooth: Managing Your Gum Recession
Besides maintaining your pearly white teeth, good oral health also includes taking care of your gums. However, receding gums and gum diseases are common problems faced by many people.
Most people have no idea that their gum line is receding. Unlike a receding hairline, gum recession is less obvious and occurs very gradually. It begins with tooth sensitivity and the lengthening of the tooth along with the appearance of a notch at the tooth line.
Happily, new technology and ongoing research have resulted in a multitude of options to prevent and manage gum recession. So, if you suspect gum recession, talk to your dental hygienist or dentist and find out what you need to do to control this process.
The Reasons behind Receding Gums
Like any other medical, surgical, or dental problem, the causes of gum recession vary from person to person.
The most common reason is periodontal diseases, which are the cause of bacterial infections in the gum. They destroy gum tissue as well as the supporting bone that holds teeth, leading to the lengthening of teeth.
While regularly brushing your teeth is mandatory for oral hygiene and health, aggressive brushing causes wear and tear of your teeth enamel, which in turn results in gum recession.
Your genes might not be your friends when it comes to gum recession. Studies indicate that 30% of people are predisposed to gum disease, whether they care for their oral health or not.
But not caring for your dental health is a leading cause for plaque, which hardens into tartar. If not removed professionally, tartar is likely to cause gum recession.
Women are more vulnerable during periods of hormonal fluctuations as experienced during puberty, menopause, and pregnancy.
Smokers and tobacco chewers are also more prone to suffer from receding gum lines.
Congenital issues such as crooked or misaligned teeth also cause gum recession since such teeth tend to put more pressure on the gums. Similarly, grinding and clenching your teeth can also damage your gums.
Mouth jewelry such as tongue bars or lip piercings also impact gum tissue by constantly rubbing against them. This can cause gum tissue to wear out.
Treating Gum Recession
Like any other disease, gum recession impacts people at varying degrees. The way your dentist treats your problem depends on the damage done to your gums.
If you have mild gum recession, deep cleaning of the area should be adequate. During this procedure, which is called tooth scaling and root planning, plaque and tartar are removed and the exposed area is cleaned out. This is followed by smoothing of the surface, which makes it difficult for bacteria to attach itself to the zone.
However, if you have excessive bone damage and deep pockets at your gum line, surface cleaning might not be sufficient. In such cases, gum surgery will be needed.
Some of the common procedures include pocket depth reduction, regeneration, and soft tissue graft.
During deep pocket reduction, the dentist or dental surgeon folds back the impacted gum tissue, scrapes out the harmful bacteria, and puts the gum tissue back snugly in place over the tooth root. This removes the pocket and detrimental gum bacteria.
Regeneration is recommended when there is loss of bone that supports the tooth. In such cases, the dentist folds back the gum tissue, removes the bacteria, and inserts a regenerative material such as graft tissue, tissue-stimulating protein, or a membrane that allows your body to regenerate bone and tissue. After the placement, the gum tissue is secured in place over the tooth.
In a soft tissue graft procedure, there are various options depending on the need of the patient. Some of the common procedures are connective tissue graft, free gingival graft, and a pedicle graft.
Depending on the state of your teeth, gum and supporting bone, your dentist or periodontist will determine the best procedure for your gum and oral health.
Preventing Gum Recession
Gum recession is a preventable disease for most people. In cases of genetic influences, it is easy to manage.
Dentists will tell you that the easiest way to prevent gum recession is to invest your time and effort in dental hygiene. Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day. See your dentist twice a year for a checkup and regular professional cleaning.
Use the right brush for cleaning your teeth. A soft-bristled brush in recommended. Learn the proper technique for brushing. This can make a huge difference to your gums and teeth.
If you have misaligned or crooked teeth, talk to your dentist about setting them straight.
Smoking is detrimental to your overall health as well as your oral health. Quit smoking to reduce your chances of gum recession.
If you have a tendency to clench or grind your teeth at night, wear a night guard to protect your gums and teeth.
A healthy, well-balanced diet also goes a long way to ensure gum health.