A majority of adult patients have some recession. Perhaps you have even heard us mention it during one of your dental visits. Since it is so common, it is important to know how we decide that it’s a problem and how we determine there is nothing to worry about.
To put it simply, recession is when your gums move back from it’s normal location on the tooth (right around the neck of the tooth) and begin to expose some of your root surface. If you have 1 or 2 millimeters of recession, don’t worry. Chances are it will not be a problem as long as you take the correct precautions. If the root surfaces have been worn after recession occurred, a simple filling or crown may easily protect that root surface. If the recession is more severe, or the wear on the root is more severe, gum surgery may be an option. Our goal is simply to prevent the recession from ever getting to a severe enough point in which surgery is necessary. Here are some helpful hints on how to prevent recession from ever happening, or preventing it from getting worse.
1. Brush correctly. Believe it or not, you can actually scrub your gums away through heavy handed brushing. Keep a gentle hand, use a soft or extra soft bristled toothbrush, and replace it every 3 months. Angle your bristles 45° toward the gums and make a gentle circular motion for 2 minutes. A Sonicare toothbrush is also a very effective method of cleaning your teeth while keeping your gums safe.
2. Manage acidity in your mouth. Patients who suffer from acid reflux or who enjoy a diet high in acidity often have more recession than those that don’t. If you feel like you have indigestion often or burp more than normal after meals, you may have acid reflux that comes up into your mouth during the day or while you are asleep. This acid can be destructive to your teeth and gums. In addition, a diet containing frequent soda, coffee or juice intake, or even sucking on lemons (yes, people do this!) is highly damaging to gums and teeth. Talk with your general doctor or your dentist if you think you may be at risk.
3. Protect those pearly whites against clenching and grinding. Wearing a night guard at night can prevent wear of your teeth and also prevent gum trauma over time. Exercises and stretching techniques can help relax your jaw during the day.
Ask our staff at your next visit to discuss your risk factors for recession and the best way for you to prevent it from happening or getting worse. After all, you’re not a shark! These are the only teeth you are going to get.