How to help avoid this common dental problem.
Gum recession is quite a common problem, especially amongst older Chelmsford patients.
It is one of the side effects of growing older, although it can also happen to younger people too if they don’t look after their oral health correctly. Unlike say, our knees, where skin will grow back if we fall and cut or graze them, once our gums have receded, they will not grow back.
There are two key issues with this. Firstly, an aesthetic one. As the gums recede, they expose more of the teeth and can make your teeth look longer than they are. This can have a ‘horses teeth’ effect and is probably where the saying ‘long in the tooth’ comes from, where it applies to older patients.
The second issue can have more serious consequences. As the gums recede, the root of the tooth that is exposed, is less well protected than the enamelled part of the tooth which shows above the gum line. As the root is not protected by enamel, the risk of tooth decay and sensitivity is much higher.
What causes receding gums?
This is a problem that we see at Blue Sky Dental from time-to-time. It has a number of potential causes, some of which can be avoided, whilst others less so. The following are some of the main reasons why people suffer from receding gums.
First of all, let us start with three reasons that we have no real control over. Getting older means that things start to change with our bodies. We may pay little attention to our gums amongst the aches and pains and wrinkles that are commonly more pronounced as we get older, but recede they do. All that we can really do at this stage is to take care of our teeth well so that the risk of tooth decay is minimised.
Certain traits are passed on throughout the generations and this is one of them. Again, there is little that can be done other than to be aware that this means that you really do need to stay on top of your oral health, both with good home care and with regular checkups at our Chelmsford dental practice.
Certain changes in our body can cause our gums to recede. These hormonal changes can occur during pregnancy, menopause and puberty as examples. We are here to help manage your oral health through these times.
Now we arrive at the things that we are in control of and can change to keep our oral health in better shape. One of the leading causes of receding gums is gum disease, and especially periodontitis. Gum disease is largely avoidable with a due attention and effort but if you’ve never considered your gum health before, a good place to start is to see a dental hygienist for guidance and a session of professional cleaning.
Smoking and alcohol
Linked to the above, both smoking and alcohol greatly increase the likelihood of this problem. These are two lifestyle habits that put people in a high risk group for gingivitis and periodontitis. Smoking especially also causes the blood vessels in the gums to narrow, reducing the flow of blood to this area which would normally help to fight off infections.
We constantly remind people of the importance of brushing their teeth, but some people take this to the other extreme. Instead of brushing gently, they apply too much pressure when doing so and this can cause both enamel wear and gum recession. There is no need to ‘scrub’ your teeth. If you find that you have a tendency to do so, a small investment in a pressure sensitive electric toothbrush should help.
Can receding gums be halted and reversed?
The answer to the first part of this question is yes they can where this is due to our daily habits. If you stop smoking and drinking excessively, make sure that you brush your teeth well and have your gum health checked by a dental hygienist, there is no reason that your gums will continue to recede. Unfortunately, achieving good health will not cause the gums to grow back and the best that most people can do is to make sure that they clean their teeth well and don’t cause the gums to recede any further.
There are treatments, such as a gum graft which can be used in cases where the gums have receded excessively. This is relatively rare though and the first objective for most patients would be to make sure that they do all that they can to prevent further recession.
Your gum health is as important as the health of your teeth and failure to look after them could lead not only to receding gums, but also tooth loss. Please make sure that you see the hygienist at Blue Sky Dental to keep your gums in the best health possible. You can arrange an appointment to see the hygienist or dentist by calling our Chelmsford dental practice on 01245 211070.