Common Conditions

What Can I Do About Gum Recession?

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Gum recession is a natural part of the aging process, but can be unsightly and cause health problems. Here's how to prevent it.

by Dr. Burhenne

What Can I Do About Gum Recession?

What can I do to slow the progression of my receding gums? Food gets caught in my receding gums, making the situation even worse.

A: Not only is this a tough question to answer, it is a tough dilemma to deal with, since gum recession is irreversible.

There’s an expression, to be long in the tooth, which means you are wise due to your advanced to prevent gum recession

But what this actually means for your mouth is that you have exposed tooth roots due to the gum receding away from the teeth, whether you’re young or old.

This makes teeth sensitive to cold, sugar, and brushing.

Gum recession can also change how your teeth look.

A little background on how the gums work: The gums act like a gasket in a motor, sealing the inside of the engine from the outside.

Over time, this gasket will break down to allow for the loss of compression (as the engine loses power).

In the mouth, the gums act as a seal to prevent food from settling in between the teeth and allowing the bacteria to do more damage to the area in between the teeth and even further down into the spaces between the gums and jawbone.

The spaces in between the teeth open up as the gum recedes allowing food to get trapped.

How Do You Prevent Gum Recession?

Unfortunately, gum recession occurs as we age, no matter what, even in a healthy mouth.

However, recession can get worse and occur sooner with gum disease, grinding your teeth, defective dental work, systemic diseases, crowded teeth and cleaning your teeth too aggressively.

Genetics also plays a role although it is not clear how. Grinding and gum disease are the largest contributors over time to recession. They are both preventable which means you can still be wise without being long in the tooth!

Here’s what you can do to prevent gum recession.

Brush with a high quality toothbrush

Make sure you throw it away often (every 4 weeks for a manual tooth brush and every 3 months for an electric toothbrush head).

By brushing with worn or cheap bristles, you will, with very little effort, scrub away vital tooth structure.

Wear a night guard

If you grind your teeth, have your dentist make you a nightguard and wear it at night while you sleep.

Learn how to brush properly

Many people don’t realize that they are brushing too aggressively, which can promote gum recession. Click here for a video that explains the proper way to brush.

Use a gentle toothpaste that is not too abrasive.

Stay away from acidic foods and drinks

Acids accelerate gum recession. Enamel is more resistant to acid, but dentin in the roots is not.

The root can be dramtically injured in a short peiod of time when exposed to wine, soda, lemonade, orange juice and other acidic substances.

Buffer these acids by drinking a neutral drink (water) alongside the acidic drink. The Europeans always have mineral water with their wines.

Prevent gum disease

Gum disease will guarantee quick and irrreversible gum recession.

Prevent gum disease by flossing and using an electric toothbrush several times a day, preferably after any meal or snack.

See your dentist

Go into the office every 6 months to have your dentist measure the amount of recession to make sure that you are maintaining gum height over the years.

Mark Burhenne DDS

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