Also known as gum recession, shrinking or receding gums refers to the vertical loss of gum tissue around teeth.
There are several causes of gum recession: all involving some irritation of the gum tissues around teeth. There are two genetic types of gum tissue – thick/flat and thin/scalloped.
Types of gum tissue and causes of receding gums
If you have the thin/scalloped gums – you may be prone to easily get recession. Scrubbing your teeth with a hard toothbrush and abrasive toothpaste can chronically irritate the gums and cause recession. When the bite is “off” and uneven, it can cause recession around the teeth involved. Large fillings and other dental work, root canals, posts, excessive bite pressure from tooth grinding or clenching can all causes recession.
Using a sonic toothbrush can vibrate the gums away from the tooth and cause recession. And finally, using alcohol-containing mouthwashes can cause recession due to the toxic chemicals in them. Recession can also be caused by over 2,300 species of bacteria. The bacteria can deposit substances on teeth that have endotoxin. The endotoxin irritates the gum tissue, thereby leading to recession.
Why is it dangerous to your mouth?
Recession can lead to premature acid and mechanical erosion of the exposed roots of the teeth involved with recession. In other words, your teeth look longer – or “long in the tooth”. When the gums shrink, so does the bone.
The bone shrinkage is permanent and cannot be grown back. This can lead to tooth loss, which is also permanent. The recessed teeth may develop hot and cold sensitivity. Food may begin to stick to your tooth roots and gums, irritating your mouth and make you feel uncomfortable. More bone occurs. This temperature sensitivity may then lead to requiring extensive dental treatment such as root canals, posts and crowns.
Why is it dangerous to your body?
Gum shrinkage can leak the dangerous bacteria through your exposed roots and to the bloodstream and lead to…
- 75% increased chance of heart attack
- 63% increased chance of pancreatic cancer
- 50% increased chance of stroke
- Respiratory diseases that affect breathing
- Loss of vision, toes, sinus problems, and feeling exhausted
- Beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss
What can be done to treat recession?
The first step is to determine the cause of the recession. Implement the home care instructions written by Dr. Joe Kravitz. Receive detailed cleanings with one of our registered dental hygienists. More extensive gum recession can be treated with a minor surgical procedure to move the gums back, to cover the exposed root. And it some cases, due to the severity, may involve multiple procedures.
If you have a mild to severe case of receding gums and would like to learn more about treatment solutions, we invite you to reach out to our team here at Kravitz Dentistry.
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Be well and healthy!
Dr. Joe Kravitz, DDS, MS
Dentist, Prosthodontist, Author, Researcher
Rockville, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, DC