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How to Prevent Receding Gums

How to Prevent Receding Gums

Nothing beats a big smile. However, if you notice that some of your teeth are bigger than normal, or appear to be longer then you might be dealing with a condition called gum recession. Like all oral health issues, receding gums is usually linked to gum disease. So how to prevent receding gums?

What is Gum Recession?

Data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 46% of adults above the age of 30 suffer from gum disease.

Gum recession is the slow and gradual process when the gums or the tissue surrounding the tooth recede, exposing more and more of the root of the tooth. Eventually, a gap forms between the root of the tooth and the gums.

It’s important to note that although receding gums is usually associated with aging, it can also be a sign of an oral health issue like periodontitis or trauma to the gums by wrong tooth brushing methods.

Additionally, leaving receding gums untreated may also put a person at risk of infection and even tooth loss. This is because as the gums recede, there is very little tissue left to hold the teeth and the gums.

Gum recession must be treated immediately, as the gums serve as the seal that protects underlying bone and tissue from infection. Without the gums, the root of the tooth together with the bones that hold the teeth in place become vulnerable to bacteria in the mouth.

What Causes Gum Recession?

The receding of gums can be caused by a number of factors. However, gum disease is the most common cause of gum recession. Primary causes of gum recession include:

Long-term periodontitis

One of the primary symptoms of periodontitis or gum disease is the receding of the gingiva or gums. Periodontitis is the later stage of gum disease, which happens when hardened plaque or tartar accumulates under your gum line.

The initial stage of gum disease is called gingivitis, which causes bleeding gums but is still reversible. However, once gingivitis is left untreated it can quickly progress to periodontitis. Periodontitis can result in further infection of the tissues and bones below the gumline which can ultimately cause tooth loss.

When the gums are healthy, they’re fitted around the teeth. However, when periodontitis occurs the tissues of the gums start to pull back or recede exposing more of the tooth’s root. Other symptoms of gum disease to look out for are the following:

  • Bright red gums
  • Bleeding gums especially when brushing
  • Pus located between your teeth and gums
  • Misalignment of your bite

Brushing too hard

If you brush your teeth too hard or if you use a toothbrush with hard bristles then you may wear down your gums and cause them to recede gradually.

Poor dental hygiene

Oral hygiene is important in the upkeep of your mouth’s overall health. If you don’t brush your teeth and floss regularly, then you are giving plaque a chance to accumulate on the surface of your teeth and below your gum line. This can result in gum disease or periodontitis which can cause gum recession.

Hormonal changes

Hormonal changes in women occur for the following reasons:

  • Puberty
  • Pregnancy
  • The menstrual cycle
  • Menopause
  • Birth-control

These hormonal changes make women more sensitive to oral health problems during certain periods.

Hormonal changes affect a woman’s oral health by changing the body’s reaction to the bacteria found in plaque or disrupting the blood flow to the gums. This can make a woman much more likely to develop gum disease and other oral health issues that can cause gum recession.

Genetics

Some people are born with weaker or thinner gums. These people are more susceptible to gum disease which can wear out the gums and cause them to recede.

Age

Gum recession is usually associated with age. Over time, the teeth and gums become weaker. This is why gums naturally recede over time. This can also be hastened if an elderly adult has gum disease that’s been left untreated for a long time.

Treatments for Gum Recession

Luckily, there are plenty of treatment options available for receding gums. The appropriate type of treatment depends on the severity of the case. Some types of treatment include:

Introduction of better brushing practices

If your gums have receded due to brushing too hard or using the wrong type of toothbrush, your dentist might teach you the right way of brushing your teeth.

You may also be provided with a better and softer toothbrush. Take note that this intervention won’t repair existing damage and is only recommended for cases of gum recession that aren’t very severe.

Scaling and root planing

This type of treatment is usually used for gum recession resulting from gum disease or periodontitis. This involves two procedures namely:

  1. Scaling: During this procedure, a dentist will thoroughly clean the accumulated plaque and tartar above and below the gumline.
  2. Root Planing: Root planing involves cleaning the root surfaces of the teeth and reattaching the gums to the teeth which may have separated because of plaque build-up. If you’re scheduled to get this treatment, it may take one or more visits to the dentist.

Gum graft surgery

A person with a severe case of gum recession may have to undergo gum graft surgery. This procedure involves a dentist transferring gum tissue from one part of your mouth (like the palate) to the teeth with exposed roots. This procedure reduces sensitivity caused by exposed roots and makes the smile look more attractive.

How to Prevent Receding Gums

The best way to prevent gum recession and other oral health issues is to strive for good dental health. This can be achieved by brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing, and practicing good technique when brushing your teeth. Practicing good oral hygiene is one of the best and cheapest ways on how to prevent receding gums. It can also help avoid the costs of treatment for gum disease which can lead to gum recession.

Key Takeaways

How to prevent receding gums? Receding gums can be caused by many factors like age, genes, and even hormones. But, the usual culprit for gum recession is usually gum disease, which results from poor oral hygiene. The receding of gums can be treated by scaling and root planing or gum graft surgery.

Learn more about Oral Health here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Adult Oral Health, https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/adult-oral-health/index.html, Accessed Dec 24, 2020

Gingival recession: its causes and types, and the importance of orthodontic treatment, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4944726/, Accessed Dec 24, 2020

Receding gums, https://www.cda.org/Portals/0/pdfs/fact_sheets/receding_gums_english.pdf, Accessed Dec 24, 2020

Hormones and oral health, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11192-hormones-and-oral-health, Accessed Dec 24, 2020

The aging mouth and how to keep it younger, https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/the-aging-mouth-and-how-to-keep-it-younger, Accessed Dec 24, 2020

Gum Recession: Causes and Treatments, http://www.ada.org/en/~/media/ADA/Publications/Files/ADA_PatientSmart_Gum_Recession, Accessed Dec 24, 2020

Scaling and root planing, https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/scaling-and-root-planing, Accessed Dec 24, 2020

Gum graft surgery, https://www.perio.org/consumer/gum-graft-surgery, Accessed Dec 24, 2020

Picture of the author
Medical reviewed by Dr. Grazielle Millo-Paredes
Written by Ruby Anne Hornillos
Updated Dec 28, 2020
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