Have you noticed a change in your gums over time? Is your gum tissue lowering its position on your teeth, causing pain and an unsightly smile? Gingival recession, or gum recession can be caused by a number of habitual actions, but if addressed early enough, can be treated easily. When left untreated, however, the supporting tissue and bone structures of the teeth can be significantly damaged and may end in tooth loss. Gum recession is actually a common dental problem, but may go unnoticed for quite some time, because the process is so gradual. The initial signs of gum recession usually include tooth sensitivity and/or elongated looking teeth. Understanding what can cause gum recession is critical in preventing the condition, which can also be the first sign of gum disease.
Some of the factors that may cause gums to recede include:
- Periodontal disease, or bacterial gum infections, that destroy gum tissue and supporting bone.
- Your genes can cause you to be more susceptible to gum disease, with studies showing that nearly 30% of the population is predisposed to the condition, regardless of their oral hygiene habits.
- Brushing your teeth too hard or incorrectly can wear away enamel and cause gums to recede.
- Lack of oral hygiene can make it easy for plaque to build up, also causing gum recession.
- Hormonal changes, such as in females over the course of a lifetime, can make gums more sensitive and susceptible to disease.
- The use of tobacco products increases the risk of plaque development, leading to oral disease.
- Other risk factors include grinding or clenching your teeth, crooked teeth or a misaligned bite, and body piercings around the lip or tongue.
If caught early, mild gum recession may be able to be treated by your dentist through deep cleaning, tooth scaling, and root planning. Antibiotics may also be prescribed to fight off any harmful bacteria. If excess bone loss has occurred or pockets are too deep for cleaning, gum surgery may be required. Only your dentist can determine what the best type of treatment is based on your unique needs. The best treatment options are preventative measures, which includes taking good care of your oral health. Brushing and flossing regularly along with visiting your dentist at least twice a year is recommended. If the cause of your gum recession is determined to be crooked teeth or a misaligned bite, there are corrective procedures that can be performed to eliminate the problem. Other ways to prevent gum recession include brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush, eating a well balanced diet, quit the use of all tobacco products, and regularly monitor the changes occurring in your mouth.
Written by Mark Paulsort
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