hum and teeth sample model with a small magninfying glass

Receding gums

Receding gums are very common, but can be treated and prevented. The term gum recession refers to the shrinking of the gum tissue around the teeth; which means that more of the tooth or even the root of the tooth is exposed. The condition can be hard to spot as it develops slowly over time; as a result of this, many people don’t know that they have it.

Gum recession can make a person appear older and can eventually lead to tooth loss; so it’s important to take steps to prevent and treat it when necessary. Fortunately, there is a lot that the patient can do themselves to minimise the degree of recession and prevent further problems from occurring. In addition a good dentist can treat the issue and give advice on the best steps to take for the best possible oral health going forward.

Why does gum recession occur?

In most cases, gum recession is caused by periodontal disease. This is also known as gum disease, and refers to the development of bacterial infections in the mouth that impact the both the gums and the bones surrounding them. Gum disease causes bad breath and potential tooth loss as well as recession; so it’s vital to get treatment from a dentist if this is suspected.

Brushing the teeth too hard can remove the enamel of the teeth, and this can cause gum recession. The hygienist can advise on how the brushing technique can be improved in order to resolve the problem.

People who don’t keep their teeth and gums clean enough are at greater risk of experiencing gum recession. If the teeth are not cleaned and flossed regularly, plaque then builds up on the teeth. Plaque that is not removed then becomes tartar, which is difficult to remove on only usually resolved by getting the teeth professionally cleaned.

People who grind or clench their teeth regularly can place unnecessary strain on the teeth and gums, and cause the gums to recede.  If this is something that is done during sleep, the dentist may suggest wearing a mouth guard to prevent further wear and tear.

When the teeth are misaligned, the gums and bones can be put under increased pressure – and the result can be gum recession. Orthodontic treatment may be the solution here, depending on the individual circumstances of the patient.

Preventing gum recession

woman getting her teeth clean in the dental clinic

The single best solution to preventing gum recession is keeping the teeth and gums as clean as possible. Cleaning and flossing (or using interdental brushes) twice a day keeps plaque at bay – and it’s also a good idea to get a professional clean every few months.  It’s worth discussing any concerns about receding gums with the dentist to find the best ways to fix the issue on an individual basis.

People who are keen to keep their gums healthy should also avoid or quit smoking; and take care with their diet. Seeing the dentist for regular check-ups and making an appointment whenever any changes occur will help to minimise any issues with the gums.

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