What Causes Gum Recession and How To Treat It
How to Stop Gum Recession
Almost always, receding gums indicate that infection is destroying the tissues that support the teeth. Visit a dentist as soon as you can for a thorough cleaning. To avoid losing teeth or other serious symptoms, you will need to pay special attention to daily mouth care. Gum tissue will not grow back on its own, but your dentist may recommend gum graft surgery to add more protection to your teeth and to improve the appearance of your teeth.
Practicing Daily Oral Care
Choose a toothbrush.Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles to avoid injuring your gums. In most studies, other features of the toothbrush beside the do not make a major difference. Some studies and dentists recommend electric toothbrushes for certain types of patients, but an ordinary toothbrush is fine for most people.A manual toothbrush provides good protection against bacteria and a complete clean of teeth surfaces if it's used properly.
- Round-tipped bristles may provide more protection for sensitive gums.
Choose toothpaste.Pick a toothpaste with fluoride, which helps fight the bacteria that cause gum recession. If the label lists the RDA, a measurement of abrasiveness, pick a toothbrush with a low value. An RDA below 70 is considered gentle, but you'll wear down less of your teeth the lower you go.
- Many labels do not display the RDA. Either look up the product's RDA online, or just stay away from whitening toothpastes, which tend to be the most abrasive.
- Some studies suggest that toothpaste made from hydrogen peroxide and baking soda may damage your teeth if you use them daily and frequently.Also, toothpastes that have salt in them are abrasive for your enamel.
Use healthy tooth-brushing techniques.Harsh brushing can do more harm than good. Place your toothbrush at a 45º angle against the gum line, pressing only hard enough to touch the tips against your teeth, not the bristle sides. Brush with small, vertical motions followed by circular strokes, not side-to-side strokes making sure you brush the entire surface of each tooth.
- Bacteria can live on the tongue as well. Brush it for 30 seconds, or use a special tongue scraper.
Start with a dry brush.Research suggests that starting with a dry brush will lead to much healthier gums if the tip of the brush has been disinfected prior to using it. Otherwise, bacteria stuck in the bristles can harm your gums. Start on the inside lower teeth and brush until all your teeth feel clean.
Rinse and repeat with toothpaste.After dry brushing, rinse the brush and add a pea-sized dollop of toothpaste. Use the same technique to brush your teeth a second time.
- Most dentists recommend you brush your teeth twice a day.
Learn flossing techniques.Research shows that most people do not benefit from self-flossing, butdobenefit if flossed by a dental professional.In other words, proper technique is everything. Floss once a day with the following method:
- Cut off a 45 cm (18 inch) section of floss and wind it around your middle fingers.
- Hold a 2.5 to 5cm (1 to 2 inch) section between your forefingers and your thumbs.
- Gently guide the floss between your teeth, rubbing up and down.
- Bring the floss beneath the gumline, curving it to press against the tooth, not the gums. Keep moving until you feel resistance. Remember to floss two tooth surfaces at a time. This step is essential for removing the plaque that causes gum recession.
Consider mouthwash.You may want to ask your dentist for advice first, as the wrong mouthwash can cause more harm than good. Mouth wash containing Listerine, the prescription-only Chlorhexidine mouthwash, or (to a lesser extent) fluoride will remove some of the plaque that leads to gum recession.However, the high alcohol content in most mouthwash can cause dry mouth, burning sensations, or even mouth ulcers, which may cause intense pain and you may not want to brush your teeth or eat for a while. Stained teeth and altered taste sensations are common as well when you overuse chlorhexidine mouthwash.
- To take most mouthwashes, swish liquid in mouth for thirty seconds and spit out. Do not rinse, eat, or smoke for thirty minutes afterward, for maximum effect.
Reducing Risk Factors
Stop grinding your teeth.Clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth can cause receding gums.If you grind your teeth at night, a doctor can recommend a device to wear to stop this. Reducing stress or meditating may help, although this has not been thoroughly studied. Hypnosis therapy may be effective for some people.
- Constant headaches in the morning that continue throughout the day, earaches, and facial muscle soreness are all signs that you might grind your teeth in your sleep.
Talk to your doctor about medications that may cause gum problems.Certain medications increase the chance of unhealthy gums. These include steroids, oral contraceptives, some anti-epilepsy drugs, some cancer therapies, drugs used after organ transplant, and some drugs used to treat migraines or blood pressure.Bring up your concerns with your doctor. Depending on your condition and the medications available, he may recommend a treatment that's less harmful on your gums.
Keep diabetes under control.Diabetes can lead to higher glucose levels in your saliva, which encourages bacterial growth on gums slowing blood flow to the gums. If you are diabetic, keep your blood sugar levels under control to reduce this risk.
Overcome eating disorders.Eating disorders can cause poor nutrition, which can lead to bleeding, vulnerable gums and erodes the tooth surface leading to substance loss. Vomiting can cause additional damage due to stomach acid.Seek help from medical professionals, mental health experts, and emotionally supportive friends.
Take care of mouth piercings.Any piercing in the mouth, including the lips, can cause infection. To avoid gum recession and more serious, life-threatening issues, take the following precautions:
- Have a professional perform the piercing, and ask about their sterilization practices first. Talk to a doctor first if you are pregnant, have allergies, diabetes, a skin disorder, or heart disease.
- For several days after piercing: Keep swelling down with cold and sleep with your head slightly elevated. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and spicy food. Rinse with (non-alcohol) antibacterial mouthwash after each meal.
- All the time: Wash your hands before handling the piercing. Try to avoid touching the piercings to teeth and gums. Visit a doctor immediately if you have pain, swelling, or red streaks.
Rinse with baking soda after throwing up.If you throw up frequently for any reason, stomach acid can wear away at your teeth. After vomiting, rinse with a mixture of baking soda and water to neutralize the acid. Do not brush your teeth immediately after vomiting.
Get your dentures refitted.If you wear dentures and feel them becoming too loose or too tight, visit a dentist. This could be causing your receding gums, or the change in your teeth could cause the change in fit. Either way, a dentist can alter them to fit more comfortably, and identify the cause.
Getting Dental Treatments
Look for signs of infection.If you've noticed gum recession, you most likely have periodontitis. In this condition, plaque and bacteria gather between your teeth and your gums, wearing away at the gum and bone.Loose teeth, teeth that are sensitive to cold or heat, permanent bad breath, teeth that look bigger creating an unaesthetic smile and dark triangles between teeth, or pain while chewing are all signs that this infection has been around for a while.A dentist visit is recommended for any receding gums, and as soon as you can if you have these advanced symptoms.
- Sometimes the gums recede rapidly, even if no other signs are present. This happens more often in puberty and young adulthood.Visit a dentist right away and ask whether "aggressive periodontitis" is a possibility. Antibiotic treatment 24 hours before the regular cleaning may be effective to reduce the amount of bacteria.
Visit the dentist.Most dentists recommend a visit at least once a year. It's a good idea to visit twice a year or more if you have receding gums. Schedule an additional visit if you notice a new symptom, such as white sores in your mouth, or teeth becoming sensitive to cold.
- People with diabetes, eating disorders, HIV, or cardiovascular diseases may need more regular checkups.Ask your dentist and doctor for advice.
Ask for a cleaning.Gum recession and gum disease are very common problems. Your dentist most likely has a great deal of experience and training in the subject. She will most likely start by cleaning your teeth with special tools:
- At a regularcleaningsession, the dentist will brush away plaque and polish your teeth to a smooth surface. This is called "scaling and root planing."
- If you have receding gums caused by disease, the dentist will probably do the same thing lower down on your teeth: adeep cleaning. Depending on how much the gums have receded, this might take two to four appointments. This can make your mouth sore, sensitive to hot and cold, and bloody. If it causes worse pain, stop your dentist and ask for a numbing medication.
Learn about more advanced treatments.More serious recession may require more serious treatment. Your dentist will let you know if these are a good idea, but here's a description to make them less mysterious:
- Apocket depth reductioncleans teeth down below the level of the gums, in "pockets" of air left by thinning gums. The gum is then secured back onto your teeth to hopefully slow or stop recession and in some cases bone grafts may be required to stabilize the tooth. Depending on your mouth, this may feel the same as deep cleaning, or require very minor local surgery to get access to the gums.
- If the recession is severe, the dentist can perform agum graft, cutting skin from the roof of your mouth or elsewhere on your gum, and attaching it over the exposed teeth. Most patients remain awake but numbed, but if you have extreme dental fear you can be put unconscious. Most pain and swelling ends within a day, but for a week or two you should avoid alcohol and tobacco, rinse with mouthwash, and be careful while chewing.
QuestionWill gums stop receding after a deep root cleaning?
Doctor of Dental SurgeryDoctor of Dental SurgeryExpert AnswerIn most cases yes, but you need to closely follow the indications given by your dentist or surgeon. A proper hygiene is essential and if the receding doesn’t stop, then you will need flap surgery.Thanks!
QuestionI am young and have noticed gum recession, but I have seen several dentists and they say it is not a problem. How can this be? Isn't it terrible, even if it turns out not to be disease-related?
Doctor of Dental SurgeryDoctor of Dental SurgeryExpert AnswerGum recession has a variety of causes and the most dangerous is due to bacterial infection which leads to periodontitis, loose teeth and eventually extraction if it’s not treated early. Most patients have slight gum recessions made by the incorrect brushing method and if the aesthetic look is very important the defect can easily be treated with a gum graft.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I have noticeable gum recession in my mid-twenties, but my dentist says there isn't a problem?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou should still follow the same guidelines to keep it from getting worse. Gum recession at this age is unusual, but it can happen if your oral hygiene is poor. It is important to strictly follow a daily oral hygiene protocol; that means brushing your teeth and gums twice daily, using mouthwash, and flossing daily. Be sure you are gentle but thorough with all of these things. Using a toothbrush that is too hard or brushing too aggressively can contribute to gum recession.Thanks!
QuestionCan your teeth get infected by eating too much?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe amount of food you eat doesn't really make a difference. The type of food you eat does. For example, consuming a lot of sugary foods can damage the teeth, especially if good oral hygiene is not practiced.Thanks!
I am only young, but I have noticeable recession on some teeth. Several dentists have told me there's nothing wrong with this, however. How can this be true? Isn't gum recession always very bad?
If I have receding gums and peeling skin in my mouth is it gum disease? How likely is gum disease to kill me?
Will chewing gum worsen gum recession?
Can previous orthodontic work cause gum recession?
- Some women get sore or bleeding gums about 3 or 4 days before the start of their period. Taking good care of your gums will reduce this effect.
- Hormone changes during pregnancy can worsen gum infections, which may cause premature delivery. Visit the dentist frequently while pregnant, especially during the third through eighth months. If you keep your gums healthy before pregnancy, the risk is much lower.
- If you find floss difficult to use, try dental tape or a floss holder.If it's tough forcing floss between your teeth, use floss made from Gore-Tex.
Sources and Citations
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