Receded Gums – How They Occur & Why They Up Your Risk For Problems

Posted on Aug 15, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

The next time you look in the mirror, smile. Notice how each tooth is arched by gum tissue. This tissue seals off and protects the tooth root sections of teeth. When the gums pull away from the teeth, darker and sensitive portions of the root are exposed. This leaves tooth roots exposed and vulnerable.

While the darker segments of teeth detract from the appearance of a smile, they are also highly sensitive. Many people often first notice gum recession when getting a painful jolt when eating or drinking something hot or cold or even from the bristles of a tooth brush. Because gum recession occurs gradually, people don’t always notice it until they experience pain.

Special toothpastes may help with sensitivity, however, it’s best to determine what has led to gum recession so further recession doesn’t occur. Causes for receded gums include:
• Periodontal (gum) disease: When bacteria accumulates on teeth at the gum line, the gum tissues weaken and lose their grip on teeth. As gum disease progresses, the tissues and supporting bone are overwhelmed by oral bacteria.
• Rigorous brushing: Using a tooth brush with hard bristles or being over-zealous when brushing can wear down enamel as well as gum tissue. Also, using abrasive substances to brush (such as baking soda) are too gritty for teeth and can wear down gum tissues.
• Poor oral hygiene: Without thorough and regular brushing and flossing, oral bacteria accumulate and form a sticky film known as plaque. When plaque is not removed, it can harden into calculus, which is a cement-like colony of oral bacteria. Calculus (or tartar) can only be removed by a dental professional or it will continue to feed on gum tissues.
• Smoking: When saliva flow is insufficient to effectively wash bacteria from the mouth. The chemicals in tobacco are very drying to oral tissues, providing an ideal environment for the formation of plaque and calculus. Both are masses of oral bacteria that attacks gum tissue and contributes to recession.
• Grinding & clenching teeth: Clenching or grinding teeth during sleep can place such force on teeth that they tilt out of their positions. Eventually, the gums pull away from some teeth, exposing tender tooth root sections.
• Hormonal changes: Pregnancy, menopause and puberty can cause changes in hormone levels. These hormonal fluctuations can cause gums to feel tender and be more vulnerable to recession.
• Crowded or crooked teeth: When teeth are not properly aligned, they endure added force to bite and chew. This can also lead to strain on the TMJ (jaw joints), gums and bone structures that support tooth roots. This can eventually result in gum recession.

When darker portions of a tooth are visible, it detracts from a smile and leaves the tooth susceptible to decay or gum disease. For the comfort, appearance and health of the tooth, repairing the problem before costly damage occurs is the best move.

As a Periodontal Specialist, my specialty is in the treatment of gum tissues, including recontouring procedures that repair recession comfortably and quickly. However, it is important to repair recession before it becomes severe. Treatment delays may result in the need for more-extensive procedures that can increase treatment time and expense.

Call 828-274-9440 to learn more.

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