10 Ways to Stop Your Gums from Receding
Gum recession doesn't happen overnight but often follows years of oral health negligence. Even people who brush and floss diligently may still inevitably have to face this periodontal issue. Oftentimes, gum recession is a result of several factors in a person's life, from something habitual like chain smoking and going to bed without brushing, to something more intrinsic like hormonal changes and aging. Without paying close attention to your oral health, it could take years to finally notice your own receding gums. This periodontal problem refers to the condition in which gum tissue surrounding the teeth gradually shrink and expose more of the tooth roots. If ignored, gum recession can lead to oral sensitivity, loose teeth, tooth decay and ultimately tooth loss. Luckily, gum recession can be prevented and reversed. No matter how old you are, it's never too early or too late to take excellent care of your gums.
What Causes Receding Gums
Periodontal Disease - Poor periodontal health is the number one culprit of gum recession. Inadequate dental care usually results in gum inflammation and bacterial overgrowth in the pockets between the gum and teeth. If left untreated, these bacteria will gradually destroy gum tissue, causing it to pull back from the teeth and eventually damage tooth structures.
Hormonal Changes - According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, women are a lot more susceptible to periodontal problems than men. This is, by no means, an indication that women have poorer hygiene than their male counterparts. It is the fluctuations of female hormones that increase women's tendency to fall prey to gum diseases. Hormonal changes during ovulation, pregnancy and menopause can all heighten the risk of gum inflammation as well as aggravation of existing gingivitis.
Genetic Factors - Sometimes no matter how immaculate your oral hygiene is, you may still develop periodontal disease because it runs in your family. In fact, studies show that children of parents with chronic gum problems are 12 times more prone to accumulation of plaque bacteria, which eventually leads to periodontal issues.
Smoking - Nicotine in cigarettes reduces oxygen in gum tissue and triggers an overproduction of protein molecules called "cytokines," which over time can cause periodontal connective tissue to break down. In fact, smokers are even more likely to suffer from gum recession and advanced periodontitis than non-smokers with not-so-stellar oral hygiene.
Age - Periodontal disease can happen to young and old people alike. As we age, however, our risk of developing periodontal problems and gum recession tend to increase. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that in a study of seniors over seventy years old, 86% of them turned out to have moderate and severe periodontitis. Gum recession isn't uncommon at all among people of this age group. Perhaps the saying "long in the tooth" could be taken literally after all.
10 Ways to Stop Your Gums from Receding
- Pay regular visits to your dentist. Most people only need to get their teeth cleaned and checked up by a professional once or twice a year, but those who are more at risk of periodontal problems may need to see their dentist more frequently than that. If you haven't seen a dentist for more than a year and your gums have already started receding, don't assume brushing and flossing your teeth more often will miraculously reverse the condition. Chances are you'll need deep cleaning done by proper dental equipment, in order to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth below the gum line. Your toothbrush, whether manual or electric, simply can't perform this task.
- Maintain good oral hygiene. The American Dental Association suggests we brush our teeth twice a day, and floss once a day. For those who like to snack on candy or sweets, however, additional brushing might be needed.
- Brush and floss the right way. More pressure doesn't equal cleaner teeth. Be as gentle as you can when you brush and floss. Overaggressive brushing and flossing can actually hurt your gum tissue.
- Opt for herbal toothpaste. Most commercial-brand toothpastes contain chemicals that may irritate sensitive gum tissue. The ingredients in question may include detergents, synthetic preservatives and artificial colorants. Herbal toothpastes, especially ones with Echinacea and rosemary, are not only friendlier to sensitive gums but can also stimulate gum tissue regeneration.
- Invest on an oral irrigator. It's a fancy device designed to remove food particles from the spaces between your teeth and under your gums, using a water jet. You may consider it "a water flosser," so to speak. Although a bit pricey, it might be worth the spending. While regular flossing can be too harsh on sensitive gum tissue, using an oral irrigation is like giving your gums a nice massage therapy.
- Eat foods rich with vitamin C. This vitamin is highly beneficial to those suffering from gum recession, as it helps the body repair and regrow connective tissue. In addition, according to an article by the New York Times, a recent study found that people who consumed less than the recommended daily amount of vitamin C were more likely to develop severe gingivitis.
- Don't munch on sugary snacks. Sugar encourages accumulation of plaque and bacteria on the teeth as well as in the gum pockets. "But I brush every day!" you may argue. The truth is good brushing isn't always adequate. Plus, most people can't practically brush their teeth after every single time they eat something sweet. Curbing your sugar consumption is the way to go.
- Quit smoking. Doing so will improve not only your gum condition but also your overall health.
- Consider switching from oral contraceptives to other methods of birth control. This may sound strange, but the hormones in your birth-control pills can indeed be the cause of hormonal gingivitis, which could eventually lead to gum recession. If you suspect your contraceptives could be the culprit of your gum problems, discuss it with your physician right away.
- Consider gum grafting. Sometimes a dentist or periodontist may recommend a gum tissue graft, which is an oral surgery meant to treat severe gum recession as well as improve the appearance of your smile. There are several types of gum grafting, but typically, the procedure involves removing some tissue from the roof of your mouth and stitching it to the gum tissue around the exposed tooth roots.
© 2013 Om Paramapoonya