When you noticed that your teeth were a little more sensitive to cold than they used to be, you didn’t really think anything of it. But you just had a dental check-up, and your dentist told you that your teeth are sensitive because your gums are receding. You’re unnerved because you know that your gums hold your teeth in place and protect them from bacteria and damage.
Gum recession is a common problem, especially as you age, but it has serious implications for your oral health and overall health, too. At Lifetime Dental Care, PLLC in Woodbridge, Virginia, our expert team wants to help you keep your gums healthy and strong. Here they share a few of the more common reasons for gum recession and the steps you can take to reverse it.
Ironically, being vigilant about your oral health may backfire if you use the wrong toothbrush or brushing technique. Hard bristles and aggressive brushing wear down the protective enamel on your teeth and also erode your sensitive gum tissue.
Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush when you brush your teeth, and make gentle, sweeping, downward motions. If you think aggressive brushing might be the reason your gums have receded, ask our team to show you how to hold your toothbrush at a proper 45-degree angle and how to sweep away plaque from all the surfaces of your teeth without causing damage.
Not brushing or flossing your teeth frequently enough causes even more problems than receding gums — including permanent tooth loss and systemic infections. We recommend brushing — gently — at least twice per day and flossing between teeth at least once a day. You should also get a dental check-up and professional cleaning at least two or three times a year.
Brushing and flossing removes the sticky, bacteria-rich plaque that collects on your teeth after you eat. If you don’t brush and floss, the plaque hardens into tartar, which irritates and erodes your gums and increases your risk for cavities. Only dentists and periodontists can safely remove tartar using specialized tools that scrape it away.
Poor oral health can lead to gum (periodontal) diseases, such as gingivitis and the more serious periodontitis. Untreated periodontitis can cause permanent tooth loss. If you’re one of 50% of US men and women who have periodontitis, we may recommend you to a periodontal specialist to save both your gums and your teeth.
Tooth grinding, or bruxism, doesn’t just wear down your molars and damage your teeth. The pressure from your grinding jaws affects your gums, too. The stress wears away your gum tissue, revealing your sensitive tooth roots.
If you have bruxism, we fit you for a custom-designed nightguard that you wear when you sleep. The guard prevents your teeth from grinding, saving both your enamel and your gums. We also custom-design oral appliances that prevent you from snoring and experiencing sleep apnea, if needed.
Just as grinding your teeth can wear down your gums, the uneven pressure that occurs when your bite is misaligned can affect your gum health. If your receding gums are caused by misaligned teeth, we may recommend correcting your tooth alignment with Invisalign®.
Even if you use a soft toothbrush, see your dentist regularly, and don’t grind your teeth at night, you may have a genetic tendency toward gum recession. The dips and rises in hormones that occur during pregnancy and menopause may also affect your gums. In these cases, we may recommend more frequent dental check-ups and professional cleanings to keep your gums safe over time.
To find out more about how to take care of your gums or restore them, contact us today at Lifetime Dental Care by phone or online.