When your teeth and gums are healthy, the teeth fit snugly in the pocket of the gum and the gum tissue is wrapped tightly around the root of the tooth. But sometimes, the gum starts to pull away from the tooth so that the roots are exposed and the tooth looks longer. Gingival recession affects your mouth in a few ways. It can make you feel self-conscious about smiling and it can make you look older since more of the tooth is exposed. When gums recede, it can also be bad news for the health of your teeth, as the exposed roots are more subject to decay and bacteria can grow more easily in the spaces left behind by the gums.
If you’re dealing with receding gums, the first step is to figure out what’s causing the problem. Next, you can work with a periodontist to come up with a way to correct it and restore your smile.
Brushing Too Hard Can Make Gums Recede
You know you’re supposed to brush your teeth at least twice a day to remove food debris, plaque, and bacteria. Some people take this advice to the extreme and really go to town on their teeth and gums. While you do want to brush regularly, you should do so gently. Brushing your teeth too hard or with a hard or medium-bristled toothbrush can actually wear down the gums, causing them to pull away from the teeth.
If you’re not sure if you’re brushing too hard, talk to your dentist. He or she might recommend switching brushes and can show you the correct amount of pressure to use when you brush. You can also invest in an electric toothbrush with a pressure sensor. If you’re using too much force, the brush will alert you until you loosen up.
Gum Disease Can Cause Gum Recession
One of the most common causes of receding gums is gum disease. When you have an advanced form of gum disease, such as periodontitis, the gum tissue is destroyed over time. It pulls away from the teeth, leaving their roots exposed.
Your Genes and Hormones Can Play a Role
Some people are more likely to have receding gums than others, thanks to their family history and genes. Your genes might make you predisposed to gum disease, which can increase your risk for developing gingival recession. The same is true of your hormones. Changing hormone levels, due to birth control, pregnancy or menopause, can increase your risk for gum disease and might lead to gum recession.
Bruxism and Misalignment Can Make Gums Recede
Just as putting a lot of pressure on your gums with your toothbrush can contribute to receding gums, so can putting a lot of pressure on the teeth and gums by grinding your teeth. Bruxism, or tooth grinding, is a fairly common condition that can have an adverse effect on your oral health. It not only makes gum recession more likely, it can also wear down the teeth and cause enamel erosion.
In some cases, teeth that aren’t well aligned or that are crooked can irritate the gums enough to cause recession. If you are concerned about the alignment of your teeth, braces or another method of straightening the teeth and adjusting the bite might help you.
Treatment Options for Gum Recession
How you can treat receding gums depends in large part on what’s causing them. If you’re dealing with receding gums because you brush forcefully, learning to brush with a gentler touch can help. Your dentist might then perform a procedure such as the Pinhole Surgical Technique to reposition the gums, eliminating the recession.
If gum disease is contributing to your gingival recession, the first order of business will be to treat the periodontitis, then restore the lost gum tissue. Depending on the amount of tissue you’ve lost, a periodontist might perform a gum graft using AlloDerm tissue or might perform a type of periodontal plastic surgery.
Figuring out the cause of your gum recession is the first step towards getting a healthier smile. Dr. John Paul Gallardo is a periodontal specialist in the Miami area who offers patients a number of different traditional and cutting-edge treatments for gum disease and receding gums. He can recommend a treatment plan for your specific concerns. To schedule an appointment in Miami, FL, call 305-547-8687 today.