Authored by Cathy L. Chambers in Dentistry
Published on 10-08-2009
Receding gums occur when the gums slowly start to move down the tooth, exposing a portion of the root. The exposes area of the root may become sensitive to cold or touch because the root of the tooth has tiny extensions that reach the surface of the tooth. This sensitivity may cause pain that sends many people to the dentist for relief. Receding gums can occur for several reasons. The gums may recede because of trauma, gum disease or an imbalanced bite.
Untreated, receding gums may cause a number of health problems. Over time, the teeth may loosen and fall out due to bacteria forming in the pockets that appear between the gums and the teeth. There is also evidence to suggest that gingivitis, the inflammation of the tissues surrounding the teeth is related to coronary health. Untreated, gingivitis can affect blood pressure and cause artery disease.
Many people believe that receding gums is a natural part of the aging process. Not everyone experiences receding gums though, so other causes seem more likely. Many people have receding gums without being aware of the problem. This is because receding gums is not associated with pain at the onset. Often the first sign of receding gums is puffy or bleeding gums. This often occurs after the gums have begun to recede and bacteria begin to grow in the spaces between the gums and the teeth. The most common cause of receding gums is trauma caused by brushing too vigorously with a hard toothbrush. Switching to a softer toothbrush can help be beneficial if gums have been damaged by using a hard toothbrush.
Grinding the teeth is another cause of gum recession. People who grind their teeth often do so as a reaction to emotional stress. This may cause gum recession in the back teeth. Receding gums is also caused by the use of chewing tobacco. Tobacco acts as an irritant to the area of the gum it contacts, causing the gums to recede. The stud used by people who pierce their tongues also acts as an irritant to the gums as it rubs against the back of the teeth.
A major factor in treating receding gums at home is maintaining good oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth regularly with a soft toothbrush and flossing regularly can help control receding gums. It is especially important to brush your teeth before you go to bed, to prevent plaque from remaining on your teeth over night. Brushing your teeth in the morning will remove any plaque that developed overnight. Flossing is equally important as it removes plaque from between teeth. If your dentist has detected a problem with receding gums, he may suggest more frequent cleanings, often as many as three yearly. If grinding of the teeth has lead to a problem with receding gums, your dentist may prescribe a night guard. In severe cases, a periodontist may have to apply grafts to the affected gums.
In most cases, the most effective treatment for receding gums is prevention. Good oral hygiene, abstaining from using tobacco can also aid in prevention. If you wear oral jewelry, remove it. Your smile is an important part of the impression you present to the world. You owe it to yourself to maintain it properly.