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Gum recession is a common dental issue. Poor oral health can cause gums to pull back and form pockets between the tooth and gum. These gaps then fill with bacteria, which affects the bone and tissue. If untreated, gum recession can lead to severe pain and tooth loss.
However, gum recession is a gradual process. This means you may not notice anything is wrong until the sensitivity and pain start. Consequently, it’s crucial to maintain regular dental appointments to spot gum recession early.
In addition to visiting your dentist, here are a few other things you can do to prevent gum recession and promote oral health.
1. Take care of your oral health
A healthy mouth is the best way to prevent gum recession and other oral health issues. By keeping good dental hygiene habits, you reduce the likelihood of developing periodontal diseases, tooth decay, and tooth loss.
You should brush your teeth twice a day (or after every meal) using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Additionally, daily flossing plays an important role in keeping your mouth healthy! You can also rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash to further combat plaque buildup.
2. Don’t brush too hard
It is absolutely essential to brush your teeth. However, brushing too hard can actually damage your teeth and gums. Brushing aggressively wears down the enamel on your teeth, and can cause gums to recede. Therefore, ensure you brush consistently, but gently.
3. Visit your dentist regularly
Another key part of maintaining a healthy mouth is visiting your dentist regularly. During these appointments, your dentist removes tartar buildup using special tools and techniques. If unaddressed, tartar can lead to gum recession. Furthermore, tartar cannot be removed by regular brushing and flossing—only your dentist can do it!
Your dentist will also check for signs of tooth decay and periodontal diseases, both of which can cause gums to recede. As with all oral issues, it’s best to diagnose and treat them early. Regular dental appointments allow you to address developing problems before they become serious.
4. Address bruxism
Bruxism is when you clench or grind your teeth. Severe clenching and grinding put pressure on your teeth and gums. In turn, this can cause gums to recede. If you suffer from clenching or grinding, talk to your dentist about possible solutions. A custom mouthguard can be used to address sleep bruxism (nighttime clenching and grinding).
5. Stop smoking and using tobacco products
It’s no secret that smoking and using other tobacco products are detrimental to your oral health. Receding gums are just one of the many serious and harmful consequences of using tobacco. The mouths of smokers tend to have more plaque and tartar buildup, which negatively affects the gums.
6. Remove lip or tongue piercings
Lip and tongue piercings can damage teeth and gums. The jewellery rubs the gums, thus irritating and wearing them down. Over time, you may notice that the gums are receding.
What to Do If Your Gums Have Receded
If your gums are receding, it’s imperative to visit your dentist. Depending on the severity of the issue, you have a few options. Your dentist will recommend the best method for your mouth.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is essential for deep cleaning. It is best used to treat mild gum recession. During the procedure, your dentist will remove all plaque and tartar buildup from the teeth and below the gum line. Then, they smooth out the roots of your teeth to help the gums reattach.
There is also open flap scaling and planing. This is when the gum tissue is folded back during cleaning and root smoothing before being reattached.
Regeneration is used when the bone and gum tissue have both been damaged. Once again, your dentist performs a deep cleaning. However, they also apply a regenerative material to bone and tissue to encourage your body to heal. The gum is then reattached.
While there are several varieties of gum grafts, all entail removing a small section of tissue and layering it over the damaged gums. This tissue comes from the inside of your mouth or from the roof of your mouth. Gum graft types include the following:
- Connective tissue grafts address larger areas of damage. In this case, the graft is taken from the roof of the mouth.
- Gingival graft is best for those with thinning gum tissue. The root and nerves do not need to be exposed for this to be a viable option. Your dentist takes a small piece of tissue from the roof of your mouth and sutures it to your gums.
- Pedicle graft is an option for those with receding gums, but an otherwise healthy mouth. With this procedure, a flap of tissue is cut but left attached on one side. It is then flipped to cover the exposed roots.
Receding Gums? Contact Your Dentist
When it comes to oral health, prevention is the best medicine. Typically, you won’t experience pain until the issue has already progressed. Consequently, regular appointments and a rigorous dental hygiene routine is the best strategy for avoiding problems like periodontal issues and gum recession. Remember, your dentist is likely to spot gum recession before you do!
In addition to keeping regular dental appointments, ensure that you are brushing twice a day and flossing daily. However, brush gently, as aggressive brushing can damage your gums. You should also address any clenching or grinding, remove lip and tongue piercings, and quit smoking to maintain good oral health.
If you have gum recession, your dentist at Bloor West Smiles can help. We can advise you on a gum graft, as well as perform a deep cleaning to remove plaque and tartar buildup. Contact us today.