Gum recession is a common dental problem, but that doesn’t mean it can be ignored. Left untreated, receding gums make teeth prone to decay and invite serious dental problems, including tooth and bone loss.
Gum recession occurs when gum tissue surrounding the teeth recedes, exposing more tooth and, possibly, the tooth root.
The first sign of gum recession is often tooth sensitivity to hot and cold foods. Another sign is a tooth that looks longer. Sometimes a notch can be felt near the gum line when flossing.
If you suspect gum problems, Dr. Byron W. Wall serves the Albuquerque region and provides complete general dentistry and cosmetic dentistry services, including dental crowns, veneers and other restorative treatments. He can assess your mouth and recommend the proper treatments.
What Causes Gums to Recede?
A number of factors can cause gums to recede:
- Periodontal disease. Bacteria can infect your gums, destroying gum tissue and the bone holding teeth in place. Gum disease is the main cause of gum recession.
- Aggressive tooth brushing. Brushing your teeth too hard or the wrong way can erode the enamel on your teeth, causing gums to recede.
- Poor dental hygiene. Inadequate brushing or flossing creates a breeding ground for destructive bacteria, which can infect gums
- Tobacco products. People who use tobacco are more likely to have plaque that is difficult to remove and provides a home for infectious bacteria.
- Bruxism. Grinding and clenching your teeth can put excessive force on teeth and cause gums to recede.
- Misaligned Teeth. Like bruxism, this causes too much pressure on teeth, encouraging gum recession.
- Body Piercing of the Lip or Tongue. Jewelry can irritate and wear away gums.
- Eating and Digestive Disorders. Acid reflux or forced vomiting introduces acids into the mouth that can erode tooth enamel and damage gums.
- Poor Diet. A diet high in sugars and refined carbohydrates can encourage periodontal disease. A diet poor in vitamins B and C, folic acid, or calcium may also make gums more susceptible to damage.
- Illness. People with diabetes face a higher risk of infection, including gum disease. Other illnesses, such as cancer or AIDS, and their treatments can affect the health of gums.
- Medications. Many medications reduce the flow of saliva. Without enough saliva, the mouth is vulnerable to infections, including gum disease. Other medications cause abnormal growth of gum tissue, making it difficult to keep teeth clean.
- Your genetics. Studies show that 30 percent of the population may be susceptible to gum disease, regardless of how they care for their teeth.
- Hormonal Changes. Fluctuations in hormones in women, such as in puberty or during pregnancy, can make gums more sensitive and vulnerable to gum recession.
The best way to prevent gum disease is to practice good oral hygiene. This includes brushing teeth twice a day and flossing once a day carefully. Since gum disease can go unnoticed, regular dental visits are important. Most gum disease can be reversed with early intervention.
Untreated gum recession can lead to serious dental problems, including tooth loss. If you suspect you have gum recession or simply need preventive information, please call us. We would be happy to discuss your concerns and help you avoid serious problems in the future.