Gum recession, also known as gingival recession, is a condition in which the gumline pulls away from the base of the tooth and exposes the root. It doesn't happen overnight, so it might take you awhile to even notice it. One of the first symptoms is tooth sensitivity. Once your root is exposed, it's a lot easier for hot and cold substances to stimulate the nerves. You might also notice that your teeth appear longer when you look in the mirror or that the spaces between them are wider. With the facts and right tips in hand, you'll be prepared to identify the signs and arm yourself with the best tools to keep your gums healthy.
Gum Recession Basics
There are a number of culprits. Plaque is the sticky film that develops on teeth, the American Dental Association defines. It's full of bacteria that initiate acid attacks on enamel after eating or drinking something sugary. When plaque isn't promptly removed from your teeth, it hardens into a substance called tartar, which collects around the gumline and irritates the gum tissue. Although it's important to remove plaque daily, be gentle! Aggressive brushing can actually damage your enamel and push the gumline away from the base of the tooth.
Hormonal changes, especially for women, frequently trigger swollen or bleeding gums that contribute to recession, according to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). Crooked teeth sometimes pose a problem too. If one tooth sticks out too far, there might not be enough jawbone to wrap around it and fully cover its root. Heredity and periodontal disease are also common factors.
Maintaining Healthy Gums
The AAP recommends some daily habits that will keep your gums healthy. Brush twice a day to remove plaque from your enamel before it turns into tarter. Don't forget to brush your tongue, as a lot of bacteria live there. Flossing at least once a day and rinsing with a mouthwash like Colgate® Enamel Health™ Mouthwash, Alcohol-Free can help remove plaque, especially from areas that are hard to reach with regular brushing. Visit your dentist twice a year for cleanings and, if your recession is severe, ask about professional solutions like straightening crooked teeth, gum grafting or regeneration.
Take good care of your gums! Healthy gums and strong enamel will protect your roots and prevent tooth sensitivity.