The most commonly asked question on the subject of receding gums is also the most obvious. That being – is there any way of reversing the problem, once it has occurred?
As is the case with most things, the key to effectively dealing with and preventing receding gums in the first place lies in gaining a better understanding of the problem in general. While every case of receding gums manifests in a somewhat different way, the characteristics of the issue remain relatively similar. That being, the gradual shrinking of the gums leading to the lower part of the tooth becoming exposed. Not only can receding gums be unsightly, it is a problem that can also increase the likelihood of infection and even tooth loss.
Identifying receding gums
Unsurprisingly, it often isn’t until a visible difference is noticeable that most people pick up on cases of receding gums. Nevertheless, the very first tell-tale indicator of the problem is often heightened sensitivity. Teeth that may not previously have been sensitive suddenly become more sensitive to hot and cold. When this happens, it doesn’t necessarily confirm a case of receding gums. Nevertheless, any changes in oral health such as this should be brought to the attention of the professionals at the earliest possible stage.
As with the majority of oral health issues, one of the best ways of preventing receding gums in the first place is to focus on the highest possible level of oral hygiene. For example, upgrading to a professional water flosserand high-quality electric toothbrushreally can make a big difference. As can getting into the habit of brushing better and flossing on a more regular basis. Nevertheless, there will always be certain cases of receding gums that could not have been prevented.
Chances are that your dentist will investigate and identify the cause of your own problem with receding gums during the examination. Which in most cases will come down to one of the following 10 common causes of gum recession:
- Gum disease. Contrary to popular belief, gum disease is extremely common. In fact, research shows that the overwhelming majority of adults either have or will have gum disease at some point or another during their lifetime. When bacteria and infection begin attacking the gums, their health deteriorates and they may begin to recede.
- Natural gum recession. Even in instances where gum disease is absent and oral hygiene is at its best, gum recession can still occur as part of the aging process. Slowly but surely, gums tend to shrink over time – a process that cannot be halted through simple oral hygiene.
- Brushing too hard. Ill-advised for many reasons, including the way in which aggressive brushing can directly harm the gums and make them far more susceptible to problems like these. One of the reasons why it’s a good idea to invest in a high quality electric toothbrush that makes it impossible to brush too hard.
- Hard brushes. Likewise, it’s also inadvisable to use toothbrush that is far too hard and severe for your teeth and gums. Dentists recommend sticking with softer toothbrushes, which when used correctly can get the job done just as well as much harder brushes.
- Tooth grinding. A surprisingly common problem which often happens without us even realising it, tooth grinding can cause severe damage to the teeth and gums alike. Many cases of tooth grinding occur during the night while those affected are asleep, making it an even more difficult problem to detect.
- Misaligned teeth. If the teeth are not aligned properly in the mouth, the result can be excessive pressure being placed on the gums in certain areas. Which in turn can weaken the gums and make them far more susceptible to problems like recession.
- Tobacco products and smoking. A variety of studies have drawn direct links between smoking tobacco and other substances and negative effects on gum health. Though it tends to be the kind of damage that manifests very slowly over an extended period of time, the damage once identified can be both severe and irreversible.
- Hormonal changes in women. In some instances, hormonal changes in the body during menopause and pregnancy can increase gum sensitivity and have a direct impact on women’s health.
- Oral piercings. Dentists generally recommend against oral piercings, given the way in which they present a series of elevated health and hygiene risks. One of which being irritation of the gums and surrounding tissue, which can increase the individual’s likelihood of gum recession.
- Diabetes. Last but not least, poor management of diabetes has also been linked with a variety of oral health issues – one of which being receding gums.
How is gum recession treated?
It’s of critical importance to identify and acknowledge cases of gum recession at the earliest possible stage. The reason being that when the problem is identified early on, it is perfectly possible to reverse it. Just as long as the damage caused isn’t particularly severe, professional cleaning carried out by a dentist along with increased focus on oral health and hygiene can encourage the gums to grow back.
If there is any trace of infection, your dentist may recommend antibiotics to help clear it up. However, when a case of gum recession becomes somewhat advanced, the only realistic way of reversing it is by way of surgery. There are various surgical procedures that can be highly effective in the reversal of gum recession. Nevertheless, the best advice is of course to do your best to avoid it in the first place.
Simply by taking care of your teeth and gums as recommended by your dentist on a daily basis, you can reduce the likelihood of ever facing a problem with receding gums during your lifetime. Likewise, ensuring you visit your dentist on a regular basis will help make sure any manifesting problems are identified and addressed at the earliest possible stage. This way, even if you do find yourself with a case of receding gums, you should find it relatively quick and painless to deal with it.