If you have sensitive teeth, or you’ve noticed a sore spot at the top of your tooth near the gum line, you may have receding gums. This can be a painful condition, but there are ways to stop it. Let’s take a look at what causes receding gums, and how you can stop this from happening or worsening.
What Are Receding Gums?
Receding gums describes a condition in which the gums pull away from the teeth to a small degree. This exposes the part of the teeth that is normally protected by the gums. This part of the teeth, mainly the dentin, is not protected by tooth enamel, so it’s more sensitive. It is also a slightly different color than the normally visible parts of your teeth.
This condition is caused by many different factors, which we’ll discuss more later in the post. Receding gums may be difficult to notice at first, since the gums only pull away a tiny bit. You might notice tooth sensitivity first, where your teeth hurt when you consume very hot or cold foods or drinks.
Your dentist might also advise you that your gums are receding when they perform periodontal charting. These are the numbers your dentist reads off as they check your gums with a small instrument. These numbers help your dentist detect even very small changes to your gum line, so you can make corrections when necessary. But what are these changes? Let’s explore.
How to Stop Receding Gums
First of all, is it possible to stop receding gums? Yes! Is it possible to repair the damage that has occurred? Not exactly. Procedures like dental bonding can fill in the exposed parts of the teeth, but the gums generally can’t be restored once they’ve receded. The best way to stop receding gums is to stop the processes or behaviors that are causing it. Here are a few things you can try.
Keep Your Gums Healthy
Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is one of the most common causes of receding gums. When bacteria build up in between the gums, it causes inflammation. This causes the gums to turn a darker red color, instead of a healthy pink, and they may feel slightly puffy and sensitive. As bacteria continue to irritate the gums, they deepen the spaces between the gums and the teeth. As this happens, the gums begin to recede.
Periodontal disease occurs most often from lax dental hygiene. Diligently brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and visiting your dentist every six months will help to remove bacteria and keep your gums healthy. Smoking and tobacco use is also linked to periodontal disease, so quitting tobacco can also help to stop receding gums.
Don’t Brush Too Hard (Or Use a Soft Toothbrush)
Brushing our teeth is often an automatic part of our routine, and it’s easy to get distracted while we brush. Sometimes, we might brush our teeth harder than we need to. This puts extra pressure and stress on the teeth and gums, and can cause the gums to recede.
You might notice your gums receding only on a few teeth, or only on one side of your mouth. If this is the case—and you don’t see evidence of inflammation or other symptoms of periodontal disease—you may be brushing your teeth harder on one side of your mouth. You probably won’t even notice you’re doing this.
Brushing too hard, or using a toothbrush with bristles that are too hard, can contribute to a process called dental abrasion. You can avoid this by brushing your teeth more gently, or using a softer toothbrush.
Avoid Teeth Grinding
Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, is a bad habit that puts added pressure on your teeth and gums. This extra pressure can be intense, and it can cause your gums to recede.
Many people suffer from nighttime teeth grinding, and aren’t even awake while they’re doing it. Other people grind their teeth during the day, but still don’t notice. Bruxism is usually caused by stress. If you are grinding your teeth, you might notice soreness in your teeth and jaw, as well as receding gums. This additional force on your teeth can cause a process called dental abfraction. Dental abfraction occurs when excessive pressure is put on the cementoenamel junction, or the CEJ. This is the area where the cementum meets the tooth enamel, right near the gum line.
The best way to fix receding gums caused by bruxism is to find and eliminate the source of stress that is causing you to grind your teeth. If this isn’t possible, you might also try a mouth guard. This will soften the pressure between your teeth, and lessen the impacts of teeth grinding on your teeth and gums.
Visit Your Dentist
Visiting your dentist every six months is one of the best ways to stop receding gums. Your dentist can help you pinpoint the cause of receding gums, and give you targeted solutions. Your dentist can also help remove harmful plaque and bacteria from your gums that your toothbrush or floss might miss. If you think your gums are receding or you’re due for a dentist appointment soon, make an appointment at a BDG office near Las Vegas, NV.