The old idiom “long in the tooth” originates from measuring horses’ teeth to determine their age. That’s because horses’ teeth continue to grow longer as they get older. While human teeth don’t keep growing as we age, they can appear to do so when our gums recede. The good news is regular visits to the dentist can help you avoid this common condition, and we’re here to guide you on the best measures to prevent receding gums and available treatment options for receding gums.
What to Know
Gum recession is a process where the margin of the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth wears away, or pulls back, exposing more of the tooth, and the tooth root. The process is slow — you may not even notice it at first — but, without attention, can result in tooth loss.
Gum recession causes “pockets,” or gaps to form between the teeth and gum line. This makes it easy for disease-causing bacteria to build up. Supporting tissue and bone structures of the teeth can then become severely damaged. This is why we want you to prevent receding gums.
Signs of receding gums can include:
- A tooth that looks longer than normal
- Tooth sensitivity
- A notch near the gum line
- Bad breath
- Swollen and red gums
- A bad taste in your mouth
- Loose teeth
Some of the many causes of gum recession are:
- Periodontal (gum) diseases are a leading cause of gum recession. Nearly 30% of us are genetically predisposed to gum disease. If you are among this population, you’ll need to be extra cautious in watching for signs and symptoms.
- Aggressive tooth brushing: Yes, there is such a thing as brushing too hard. Doing so will wear away the enamel on your teeth and cause gum recession.
- Hormonal changes in women during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can make gums more sensitive and, therefore, more vulnerable.
Other Causes Include:
- Grinding and clenching your teeth
- Use of tobacco products
- Crooked teeth or misaligned bite
- Lip or tongue piercing
- Insufficient dental care
- Old age
- All of the above create vulnerability for teeth, bone, and gums, which — you guessed — may cause gums to recede.
In most cases, proper care can prevent receding gums. Beyond regular dental visits, following these simple steps at home also can help.
- Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Gently brush at least twice a day for two minutes.
- Eat well-balanced meals
- Eliminate smoking and other tobacco products