Gingiva is a soft tissue that surrounds your teeth and covers your jawbone. You might know it by its more common name: gums! Despite their pink pigment and smooth texture, gums are deceptively strong. They bind tightly to the underlying bones of the mouth to prevent foods, beverages, and (most importantly) bacteria from infiltrating the deeper tissue. They act as a barrier, covering sensitive parts of the teeth and mouth. Due to gingiva’s role as a protector of teeth, its health is critical. Luckily, preventing gum recession is simple.
Preventing Gum Recession
Healthy gums are firm, coral pink (or slightly darker), and fit snugly around the teeth. They follow a curved line around each tooth and are not inflamed, painful, or bleeding. When gingiva recesses, it lowers its position on the tooth and may expose the roots of the teeth. Although preventing gum recession isn’t difficult if you already maintain a strong oral health routine, staying aware of your gums’ health and responding to signs of damage is crucial.
- Overaggressive Brushing or Flossing: Although we want you to be passionate about keeping your teeth clean and healthy, that doesn’t mean you should be brushing vigorously and flossing with abandon. Always use a soft toothbrush and gently brush your teeth. If your gums feel sore after brushing, you frequently have to replace your toothbrush because the bristles are splaying out, and/or you notice that your gums are receding, you may need to soften your brushing technique.
- Genetics: Some people can blame their parents for gingival recession. If one or both of your parents also suffers from recessed gums, you are at a higher risk for the condition. Because your genetics influence the characteristics of your gums, they can cause your gingiva to be thin, fragile, or insufficient, leading to recession.
- Tooth Position: When the teeth are not properly aligned, the gums may not be able to cover and protect them. For example, a protruding tooth can push through the gum, and crooked teeth can place extra pressure on the gums’ soft tissue.
- Bruxism (a.k.a. Grinding Your Teeth): Grinding your teeth can cause many oral health issues, including tooth loss and gum recession, so alert your dentist if you suspect that you have the condition. Bruxism can damage the soft tissue of your gum due to the high level of pressure on the gum line.
- Oral Trauma: Trauma to the gum tissue, such as a sports injury, can lead to gum recession. Although this isn’t as common as other potential causes, it can create significant recession.
- Tobacco Products: Tobacco can harm your mouth in numerous ways, including gum recession. It often gives rise to a sticky and difficult-to-clean plaque on the teeth, which can cause the gums to recess if left untreated.
- Periodontal Disease: Also known as gum disease, periodontal disease is caused by poor oral hygiene. Inadequate brushing and flossing lead to a buildup of dangerous bacteria, causing chronic inflammation of the gums. If left untreated, it can cause recession.
As soon as you notice that your gums are recessing, contact your dentist to discuss preventing gingival recession in the future and to treat your current problem. If not addressed, the condition could progress, causing further recession and sometimes even bone loss around the teeth.
Treatment varies based on the type of recession, severity, and symptoms. If your situation is mild or moderate, your dentist may simply recommend prevention techniques to avert further damage. To do this, he or she will pinpoint the cause of the recession. For example, a mouth guard prevents bruxism and adjusting your brushing technique can put a stop to aggressive cleaning. Scaling and root planing (deep-cleaning procedures that address periodontal disease) aid some patients as well.
Severe gum recession can cause discomfort, sensitivity, and pain, as well as aesthetic displeasure. To treat these distressing cases, dentists often recommend surgery. Three procedures can help people suffering from severe gum recession:
- Soft-Tissue Graft Surgery: During a grafting procedure, your dentist or periodontist will graft healthy gum tissue from the top of your mouth (or a gum-grafting material) to the recessed area. This will protect the exposed tooth and alleviate symptoms.
- Regeneration: During regeneration, a surgeon places regenerative material (like a membrane, graft tissue, or tissue-stimulating protein) in areas of bone loss. This helps regenerate the lost bone and gum tissue.
- Pocket Depth Reduction: Loose gums can cause pockets between the gingiva and teeth. To reduce this, your dentist or periodontist will fold back the loose gum tissue, remove the dangerous bacteria, and secure the gum tissue over the root of the tooth.
To learn more, check out our blog post How to Fix Receding Gums.
Preventing gum recession is actually quite simple. If you take good care of your mouth – teeth, gums, tongue, and all – your gums will remain healthy and complete. Brush at least twice a day, floss at least once a day, and use a soft-bristled toothbrush and proper brushing techniques (if you aren’t sure what this means, ask your dentist or dental hygienist). If you can locate the cause of the condition, make specific changes based on the issue. For example, you may need to switch to an ultra-soft toothbrush, receive orthodontic treatment, schedule surgery, quit using tobacco, or wear a mouth guard.
In addition, schedule regular dental appointments at least twice a year and discuss any concerns you have regarding gum recession with your dentist. This is especially important if the condition is caused by the positioning of your teeth, bruxism, or periodontal disease. Your dentist’s professional expertise can help you correct the problem and protect your gums.
Your teeth and gums were meant to last a lifetime, so take care of them by preventing gum recession. Need help? If you’re looking for an experienced, reliable, and friendly dentist in or near Springfield, Missouri, contact Wilkinson Dental. Dr. Wilkinson and his team will give you the personalized treatment you deserve using state-of-the-art technology. Schedule your first appointment today by calling 417-708-0556 or requesting an appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you!