Worried that your gum line is gradually eroding? There are ways to help.
Gum recession, where the margin of gum tissue that surrounds the teeth wears away, is a fairly common dental problem. Most people don’t realize they have it because it occurs over a long period of time. However, when gums pull back and expose more of the tooth, pockets start to form between the teeth and the gum line. This makes it easy for disease-causing bacteria to accumulate.
Causes of gum recession
The first way to take action is to know what triggers gums recession.
Periodontal diseases: Periodontal diseases, such as gingivitis (early stage gum disease) and periodontitis (late stage gum disease) are the main causes of gum recession. These bacterial gum infections destroy tissue and supporting bones that hold your teeth in place.
Aggressive tooth brushing: People who hold their brushes too firmly and scrub too hard or the wrong way may cause tooth enamel to wear away and gums to recede. It’s also important to replace toothbrushes or tooth heads for electric toothbrushes every two to three months, since bacteria can start to gather on bristles.
Inadequate dental care: Not visiting the dentist enough combined with insufficient brushing and flossing fosters plaque buildup, which turns into tartar, the hard substance that can only be removed by a professional dental cleaning.
Genes: Due to genetic factors, some people are more susceptible to gum disease. Research suggests that 30 percent of the population may be predisposed to gum disease, no matter how well they care for their teeth.
Tobacco products: Cigarettes, cigars, chew and other tobacco products are a big culprit of gum disease, since the chemicals create sticky plaque that damages teeth. In addition, it may cause dry mouth, tooth decay and smoker’s breath.
Hormonal changes: Varying hormone levels associated with life events such as puberty, menstruation, pregnancy or menopause can make gums more sensitive and vulnerable to gum recession.
Grinding teeth: Teeth grinding, called bruxism in the medical field, can place unnecessary tension on teeth and gums, and push back the gum line. Grinding often occurs during sleep, so most people are unaware of it. However, telltale signs include constant headaches or a sore jaw.
Gum recession is not something to ignore. If you believe your gums are receding, make an appointment with your dentist. There are treatments that can repair your gums and prevent further damage.
Gum disease has been associated with diabetes, heart disease and prescription medications. Diabetes increases blood sugar levels in the body, which fosters the formation of acids in the mouth and scrape away at teeth and gums. Periodontal disease and heart disease share common risk factors, such as smoking, older age and diabetes, but scientists are not exactly sure how much having one condition raises the likelihood of the other. Lastly, many prescription medications are known to lead to dry mouth, which leaves the mouth more prone to infections due to a lack of saliva.
Scaling and root planning are often the first approaches applied by dentists. This procedure involves a deep cleaning to remove bacterial plaque and tartar. Scaling includes scraping tartar from above and below the gum line, while root planning smoothens the roof surfaces of the teeth. Your dentist can evaluate the success of this treatment over time and help devise new plans to minimize gum disease damage.
Gum tissue is delicate and may not grow back. However, those looking for at-home treatment options to halt gum disease can check out TheraBreath Periotherapy, which can help stop bleeding gums, heal damage from oral diseases and eliminate bad breath.