Anyone who has experienced receding gums knows it can be a painful condition. Gum recession happens when the gum tissue that surrounds a tooth pulls back or wears away. The tooth or even the root can become exposed. This creates pockets or gaps between the tooth and the gum where bacteria can grow and cause decay, infection, and even tooth loss.
Why does this condition occur? Dr. Jeff Martin points to three main reasons: periodontal disease, over-brushing, and overnight teeth grinding.
Periodontal Disease and Receding Gums
Periodontal disease is the primary cause of gum recession. This disease is a bacterial infection that destroys gum tissue and the bones that hold the teeth in place.
“[Patients with periodontal disease have] a lot of build-up and tartar underneath the gum line … affecting the gums and the bone so the gum tissue is receding,” Dr. Martin says. “They need to get some periodontal treatment, and that stops the gums from receding, but they don’t grow back.”
Poor oral health contributes to periodontal disease. Brushing twice each day, flossing regularly, and using mouthwash can help keep your teeth safe and healthy.
Over-Brushing Causes Receding Gums
Brushing your teeth too much or too hard can also cause your gums to recede. Over-brushing breaks down the enamel on your teeth and can wear away your gum tissue. Over-aggressive brushing feels more like scrubbing than brushing – so always make sure your strokes are gentle. Hard toothbrushes also contribute to gum recession.
“The toothbrushes were too hard and what patients would do, what we all did, we just scrubbed so hard,” Dr. Martin recalls. “We really caused the gum tissue to recede in certain areas. Right-handers typically abrade tissue on the right-hand side because you can really brush really hard.”
If you have gum recession on the same side of your mouth as your dominant hand, Dr. Martin says, this may be a sign that you are over-brushing.
Switching to a softer toothbrush can help you reduce over-brushing. Dr. Martin also recommends electric toothbrushes because they provide the right speed and bristle softness for a safe, gentle, and complete clean. Remember: Taking care of your teeth should not hurt!
Grinding and Clenching Can Cause Receding Gums
Bruxism, or teeth grinding, can also accelerate gum recession. If you wake up with a headache, you may be clenching or grinding your teeth in your sleep, which contributes to many dental issues including receding gums.
Treatment Options for Receding Gums
Receding gums don’t grow back. It’s important to visit a dentist right away if you have receding gums. Catching gum recession early will save the gum tissue you have left and stop the recession in its tracks.
Martin Taylor Dentistry provides excellent care to patients looking for dental services in the Tucson area. Our services include regular hygiene check-ups, extractions, cosmetic procedures, and treatment for gum diseases, including gum recession.