When talking about dental health, the teeth usually take the main spotlight. But today, we’ve decided to put someone else center stage – your gums! For those who have never really thought about it, gums are made of soft tissue that is covered by a layer of oral mucosa. Even though they don’t get a lot of attention, the gums play an integral part in keeping your mouth nice and healthy. The mucous membrane helps to eliminate bacteria and prevent nasty issues like gum disease from taking over your smile. If you’re one of the people who think that the dentist telling you to brush twice a day and floss at least once a day is more of a recommendation than a strict guideline, your smile could be in danger of falling into the dangerous territory of recessive gums. Gum recession is when the gum tissue surrounding the teeth wears or pulls away, resulting in exposed tooth roots. This begs the question, do gums grow back?
Yes, without good oral hygiene, your gums could actually recede and not grow back. Oftentimes, receding gum tissues result in “longer looking” teeth. In addition to aesthetic issues, your oral health can become compromised when receding gums leaves the roots of your teeth exposed. This makes it easier for bacteria to get inside and cause tooth decay and infections. Other symptoms of receding gums include but are not limited to:
Swollen gums or sensitive gums
Pain at the gum line
But it’s reversible, right?
Wrong! Unfortunately, once your gums have receded, it’s impossible for them to return to their normal state without the aid of extensive and, oftentimes, painful gum grafts. Gum grafting is a dental surgical treatment done by a periodontist that involves placing a small amount of new tissue in areas with gum loss. If your mouth has suffered from the effects of several gum problems and severe gum recession, it is possible to prevent them from worsening. The earlier you catch it, the easier it is to get your mouth back in tip-top shape.
How can I prevent this?
Brushing your teeth and flossing as recommended by your dentist is a great way to keep the health of your teeth and gums in check. But that’s only the first line of defense. To fully understand how to stop receding gum tissue, it's important to know some its causes, including:
Tartar or plaque build up
Grinding or clenching your teeth
Crooked or misaligned teeth
To stop receding gums at the root of the problem, get checkups from your dentist at least twice a year. If you find that other issues (like misaligned bite or teeth grinding) are the cause, ask your dentist how to prevent more damage and correct the problem.
Of course, practicing good brushing habits is the best way to keep receding gums and other issues at bay. Use soft bristles to brush your teeth gently and evenly for two minutes, twice a day (don’t forget your tongue and cheeks too). While you’re at it, look for products with a seal from the American Dental Association, like a quip Electric Toothbrush or a quip Smart Electric Toothbrush that automatically tracks how well you brush with the quip app. Flossing regularly and using fluoride-infused mouthwash can also do wonders for your mouth.
Let your gums be their best selves. They deserve to share the stage with the famed pearly whites everyone’s always obsessing over.