Dental Tips Blog


Three Causes of Gum Recession

Posted in Gum Disease

Gum recession can cause tooth sensitivity and esthetic concerns. As gums recede, they also jeopardize the health of your mouth. If there isn’t enough healthy tissue and bone around your tooth, it can become mobile and even fall out. Knowing how to prevent and halt gum recession is important.

Gum disease

Periodontal disease causes gum tissue to detach from the teeth, as well as bone loss. As a side effect, gum tissue often creeps down the root of the tooth, leaving it exposed. People with gum disease typically begin experiencing symptoms of food packing, bleeding, and tenderness. 

Tobacco use

Smokeless tobacco use can cause aggressive gum recession in areas where the tobacco is held in the mouth. Even with moving the tobacco from place to place, the gums can experience recession. Cigarette use can cause other symptoms of gum disease to go unnoticed until recession begins to occur. 

Aggressive toothbrushing

Have you been told to brush with a soft toothbrush? That’s because using a medium or hard bristled brush can actually damage your gum tissue. Even scrubbing too hard with a soft brush can create irreversible enamel abrasion as well as gum recession. Stick with a gentle brush and apply only a light amount of pressure, making short strokes on one or two teeth at a time.

Since gum recession is irreversible, some people may find themselves in need of having a gum graft. Grafting helps to re-cover severe areas of recession. Smaller areas may have tooth colored bonding placed instead. If you’ve noticed recession, no matter how small, it’s time to see your dentist!

Posted on behalf of Dr. Virginia Kirkland, North Point Periodontics



Are All Electric Toothbrushes Created Equal?

Posted in Periodontics

You’ve probably heard that electric toothbrushes clean the teeth better than manual toothbrushes. If you’ve decided to purchase an electric brush, you may now be wondering if a certain type of brush is better than another. The designs, prices, and features of electric toothbrushes can vary greatly, so you’ll want to make an informed decision about your investment.

The first thing a person should look for when purchasing an electric toothbrush is the quality of the bristles. A stiff-bristled brush will not clean the teeth any better, it will only cause excessive abrasion to the teeth and irritation to the gum tissue. Gum recession may be a result which often requires gum graft surgery. Instead, select a soft bristled brush. As bristles wear out over a few months, a high-quality brush will feature interchangeable heads that can be replaced.

Choose a brush that is the appropriate size. A larger toothbrush head won’t clean more teeth at a time, it will just make it difficult to clean teeth in narrow areas of the mouth. Focus on brushing 2 teeth at a time, and choose a brush head in that width.

You will get what you pay for! Most economy priced electric brushes will not last as long or do a poorer job at removing plaque from the teeth. Consider looking up clinical studies on your top 3 brush picks, to see which one cleans the teeth best.

Do you want to be able to share the brush with another person? Some brands make interchangeable heads that can easily be switched out between siblings or spouses.

No matter how much you spend on an electric brush, you should be brushing for a minimum of two minutes twice a day. The brush doesn’t mean you can brush faster, it just means you’ll brush more efficiently!

Posted on behalf of Dr. Virginia Kirkland, North Point Periodontics



Gum Recession Treatments

Posted in Gum Disease

Recession of the gums is the condition that involves loss of attached gum tissue at healthy levels along the smile. Rather, the gum tissue begins to creep slowly down the root of the tooth, exposing areas of the tooth that were not designed to withstand outside environment as well as compromise the stability of the tooth. As a result, areas of recession can result in tooth mobility, sensitivity, and tooth decay.

Gum recession can occur for a variety of reasons. Some of the main causes include gum disease, orthodontics, aggressive toothbrushing, use of smokeless tobacco, and oral piercings. Basically, disease, irritation, or accelerated movement can cause the gums to creep further down.

There are a few ways dentists approach care for areas of recession. If recession is mild, the area may be treated with a fluoride varnish to prevent sensitivity as well as deter tooth decay. More moderate areas can present an aesthetic concern as well, which is why composite bonding is often used to cover those areas along the gumline. Severe recession can jeopardize the life of the tooth (and your smile), which is why grafting is often recommended. Gum grafting uses gingival tissue from another area of your mouth to cover the exposed roots of your teeth as it is re-attached in another location. Synthetic grafting material can also be used, eliminating the need for additional surgical steps to be taken.

Gum recession is not something to be taken lightly. It can cost you one tooth, or your entire smile, not to mention make your teeth extremely sensitive. If you’ve battled recession or noticed new areas developing, contact your dentist as soon as possible.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Virginia Kirkland, North Point Periodontics



3 Hidden Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Posted in Periodontics

Sensitive teeth can happen for a number of reasons, making certain foods uncomfortable to eat, dental cleanings not-so-fun, and even cause sporadic pain throughout the day. Although there are several different causes of tooth sensitivity, here are 3 of the most obvious causes that plague dental patients:

Using whitening products.

Whitening treatments, even toothpastes, tend to open up the pores of tooth enamel in order for stains to be lifted. For some people, this can cause mild (or in rare circumstances, even severe) sensitivity. If the sensitivity stops after the product use is discontinued, then most people know that’s what the cause was and they don’t have to worry about other types of problems. Giving up your whitening toothpaste may be all that is needed, or using a sensitivity toothpaste in conjunction with the whitening product that you’re using, in order to counteract the effects.

Gum recession.

Exposed root surfaces due to gum recession make the porous tooth tissue exposed to external factors that it wasn’t designed for. Air, foods, toothbrushing, or any external stimuli can cause those teeth to experience varying levels of sensitivity. Your dentist can treat gum recession using a gum graft if sensitivity products don’t help relieve the symptoms.


That’s right…teeth that are sensitive to foods with a sweetness to them, such as desserts, sweet tea, or juice are typically a red flag for existing tooth decay. If sweet sensitivity doesn’t go away within a few days, then you need to see your dentist as soon as possible in order for the cavity to be caught when it’s small.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Virginia Kirkland, North Point Periodontics



When to Change Out Your Toothbrush

Posted in Periodontics

You use your toothbrush at least a couple of times every day. It sits on your bathroom counter and then goes right into your mouth. Keeping it clean and dry helps prevent bacteria from harboring within the bristles, but there are still some times when you should immediately change your toothbrush out.

If you’ve had an illness or viral infection such as strep throat or the flu, you need to toss your toothbrush. Most doctors recommend throwing your toothbrush away 24 hours after beginning an antibiotic treatment. It may be in your best interest to use a cheap, disposable toothbrush between that time and when you are completely recovered from your illness to throw away again, before you to back to using a high quality toothbrush or get a new electric toothbrush head. This prevents you from repeatedly buying new, high-end toothbrushes, especially if you have a recurrent illness.

When toothbrush bristles begin to splay out, it’s time to toss it. The additional wear and tear of the bristles can cause microscopic abrasions on your gums and tooth enamel, contributing to abrasion and gum recession which could require gum grafting to correct. Also make sure you’re not brushing too hard. Even if you’re brushing like you should, with soft pressure and a soft bristled toothbrush, you shouldn’t be getting visible bristle splaying for a 2-3 months, if at all. Splayed bristles within a week of use are typically a signal that you’re brushing too hard; they can damage your teeth.

The longest you should use your toothbrush is sometime around 3-6 months. Electric (and some manual) toothbrush heads may offer a visible color or line on the bristles that disappear when they are due to be changed out.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Virginia Kirkland, North Point Periodontics



Are Hard or Soft Bristles Best?

Posted in Oral Surgery

There are so many types of toothbrushes available on the oral care aisle, not to mention the selection of bristle types. Which type of bristle is best – hard, medium, or soft? Even when their dentist tells them which one to try, many patients go with the complete opposite. Does it really matter which one you choose, and does it affect your oral tissues?

One type of bristle can actually do physical damage to your tooth enamel and gum tissues over time. Which one is it? Hard bristles – especially when someone scrub brushes very firmly, a hard bristled toothbrush can physically wear away tooth enamel and cause gum recession which may require gum graft surgery. Both of these conditions are irreversible and lead to sensitivity and aesthetic concerns.

The best type of toothbrush to use is one with soft bristles. Softer brushes are gentler on the gum tissue, tooth enamel, and provide just as effective plaque removal as other types of brushes. Gently massaging the gumlines can remove plaque from below the surface without causing irreversible gum recession due to excess forces. Even though you’re choosing a brush with soft bristles, you should still make sure that you’re not pushing too firmly when you brush. Scrubbing hard with a softer brush can still cause some dental wear.

Medium bristled toothbrushes are still too firm to use on your teeth. If you’re unsure whether or not you have enamel abrasion and gum recession from hard brushing, you can ask your hygienist to check. The areas around your premolars or canines are typically the most susceptible, and damage is first evident in these locations. Catching wear as early as possible can prevent dental problems later on.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Virginia Kirkland, North Point Periodontics



Exposed Tooth Roots Pose an Increased Risk of Developing Decay

Posted in Gum Disease

Do you have gum recession, periodontal disease, or damage that causes your root surfaces to be exposed? If you do, it’s important for you to know that this area of your tooth is much weaker and susceptible to developing cavities than your strong tooth enamel. In fact, this part of the tooth is made of dentin, which is almost 70% weaker than enamel.

What does that mean for you? It means that additional care is needed to prevent your teeth from developing root cavities. Once root cavities begin to form, they can progress very quickly, complicating the health of your entire tooth. Taking the right steps can help prevent root cavities from forming, as well as other side effects like sensitivity.

Topical fluoride varnish is a simple, effective treatment that blocks the pores of dentin for up to 3 months. That means there’s no sensitivity and less likelihood to develop cavities. Varnish isn’t the same as other types of fluoride; it’s an even stronger paste that adheres directly to your tooth and is applied by your dentist or hygienist.

Gum grafting may be recommended if your recession is very severe. This uses a piece of donor tissue from you or other source to recover the existing exposed area. It’s applied just like a small blanket draped over the root of your tooth, which then adheres to the dentin and surrounding gum tissue.

Tooth colored bonding can help cover mild to moderate areas of exposed roots, and is similar to having a small filling placed. The composite material is matched to your enamel and shaped over the area of exposed root, bonding to your tooth structure the same way other types of tooth colored fillings are.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Virginia Kirkland, North Point Periodontics


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