Receded gums are gums that have crept down the surface of the teeth, exposing the root surface. The teeth appear longer than normal, with the yellowish portion of the tooth root exposed.
It’s also common for moderate to severe tooth sensitivity to be associated with gum recession. This is because gums were designed to cover the root surfaces, which house nerve endings that are very sensitive to the outside environment. Sensitivity can be reduced by using supplemental fluoride or using a sensitivity prevention toothpaste. These toothpastes help block the pores of the teeth and are most efficient after about 2 weeks of use.
When recession is severe, it may be necessary to treat the area with gum recontouring or a gum graft. This takes gum tissue from another part of the mouth and drapes it over the exposed root, where it is affixed to the surrounding tissue. The graft helps stabilize the tooth while preventing outside factors from causing sensitivity.
If recession is severe enough, it can place your tooth at an increased risk for loss. When gums recede it also shows that there is no bone structure in that area. Bone is necessary for tooth stabilization and health. Severe bone loss typically is associated with gum disease, tooth mobility and tooth loss.
Recession can occur due to aggressive tooth brushing, smokeless tobacco use, orthodontic therapy or gum disease. Perhaps you’re beginning to notice the development or receded gums along specific teeth, or in a generalized area. Have your dentist evaluate it earlier on to help you omit the cause, and treat the area if necessary. Catching it early on is the best way to prevent severe recession later on.
If you aren’t careful, your toothbrush can actually damage your teeth and gums – really! While medium and hard bristled toothbrushes are available at most major retailers, they are highly abrasive to your teeth. Even if a soft brush is used improperly it can also damage tooth enamel and gum tissue.
Toothbrush abrasion is a condition where a notch of tooth enamel is removed from your tooth, near the gumline. This usually happens over an extended period of time due to aggressive brushing. Tooth enamel is the hardest tissue in the human body, but even it can succumb to excessive daily force!
Abrasion can cause aesthetic concerns as well as tooth sensitivity. Usually abrasion is also combined with gum recession, where the gums pull back from excess pressure during brushing. Treatment options include gum recontouring or gum tissue grafts.
Proper brushing should be done with a soft or extra soft bristled brush, with only enough pressure to cause gentle blanching of the tissues. Any pressure more forceful than this may cause tooth damage. When brushing, make short, small strokes on just 2 teeth at a time, instead of wide strokes across several teeth. Take your time. People that get in a rush tend to brush more aggressively.
Breaking the habit of hard brushing is a difficult one to make but is the only way to prevent toothbrush abrasion. If you’re having a hard time transitioning, consider using a high quality electric brush. Concentrate on holding the brush in place and allowing it to do all of the work for you. At first it may feel like you’re not cleaning your teeth as efficiently, because you aren’t scrubbing the teeth. In the end your teeth will be just as clean with a soft bristled brush, or even cleaner if you use an electric toothbrush.
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