Do your teeth get sensitive to cold air or liquids? Do they get sensitive when you eat something sweet? Do your teeth appear to be getting longer, or slightly darker at the gum line?
If the answer is yes to any or all of the above questions, you may have gum recession. In fact, half of all adults in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 65 have some form of gum recession.
Our teeth are naturally supported by the tissues of the mouth including the bone of the jaw and a protective layer of gum tissue. If the gum tissue begins to pull away from the edges of our tooth enamel, the living roots of our teeth become exposed. This can lead to sensitivity, root cavities, and an unattractive long appearance to the teeth.
What is the Cause of Gum Recession? Gum recession is now known to be caused by many factors. People who have thin, scalloped gums are more susceptible to gum recession in the presence of other factors such as:
Poor oral hygiene: Gingivitis due to poor brushing and flossing habits can lead to inflammation and bleeding of the gums. Over time, this can lead to gum recession.
Traumatic Brushing: Heavy scrubbing during brushing, and using ANYTHING other than a soft toothbrush can and will lead to gum recession in most adults.
- Never use a hard or medium brush, always use a soft brush.
- Never scrub back and forth. Use gentle wrist action in a circle, or an up and down pattern.
- Always use a brand name toothpaste. Off-brand and “Natural” toothpaste preparations can vary greatly in their abrasiveness.
Tooth Position and Orthodontics: We now know that teeth that are too close to the outer edges of the jaw ridge are more prone to gum recession.
- Individual teeth that are pushed toward the lip during crowding are highly susceptible to recession.
- Orthodontic treatment to reduce crowding can contribute to recession unless jaw expansion is performed at a relatively early age, and prior to tooth movement.
Ill-fitting or failing restorations: It is very common for a failing filling, or an improperly contoured cap to cause chronic inflammation of the gum. This will almost always result in recession over time.
Through knowledge and healthy practices, gum recession is largely preventable for most people, and others may be able to greatly reduce both the rate and the severity of the condition.
If you are concerned that you, or a member of your family, may have some of the signs, or symptoms of gum recession, consult with your dental professional. They will help you find the solution that best fits your individual needs.