Most of us face the prospect of receding gums, even if this is not a current issue for you. The vast majority of people over 65 suffer from receding gums which affect at least one tooth.
Gum Recession: What Is It?
Also known as gingival recession, gum recession is usually what happens when the gum that covers tooth roots begins to recede, leaving the roots exposed. It may also affect an abnormally positioned tooth, caused when a tooth is crowded as permanent teeth start to come in.
Gums protect tooth roots, which are more fragile than the rest of teeth, from bacteria, plaque, and other kinds of decay. So gum recession exposes tooth roots to these potential issues, including tooth loss.
Why Gums Recede
Gum recession is most commonly related to poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease. However, the condition can also affect people who are conscientious with their oral hygiene. Whatever the cause, gum recession tends to affect teeth in a similar way.
The two major causes of receding gums are: inflammation of gum tissue and physical wear. With physical wear, the problem is often caused by brushing teeth too vigorously and/or the use a toothbrush with hard bristles. The sides’ gums tend to be more seriously affected than the front, and often on the left side, since most of us are right-handed.
It often surprises people with good oral hygiene to discover that their healthy habits are causing a problem. But this issue can be easily remedied.
Gum inflammation is a serious issue, especially for people who have genetic factors at play, such as tooth position or gum thickness. Plaque is more likely to be a problem with thinner gum tissue and to lead to gum inflammation. Periodontal disease, which causes a loss of supporting bone around a tooth due to inflammatory reaction, is caused by plaque buildup.
There are also other physical factors which may push gums back, such as lip piercings and misaligned teeth.
Effects and Treatments for Gum Recession
The major effects of gum recession are appearance (as gums recede, they can affect your smile and how you look when talking), greater oral sensitivity, and tooth loss. When gum recession proceeds too far, it can have serious consequences for your mouth.
Proper treatment, if started soon enough, can stop or reverse gum recession. Milder cases do not need serious treatment, but can be managed by ongoing care and prevention, such as gentler teeth brushing methods.
Even if a person is suffering from graver effects, like tooth sensitivity and pain, treatments are still available, such as desensitizing agents which reduce sensitivity caused by exposed tooth roots, orthodontics to fix teeth positions, and surgery to graft tissue from elsewhere in the mouth over the gum recession.
If gum recession is bothering you, consider making an appointment with your Philadelphia oral surgeon to discuss your options.
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