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According to the World Health Organization, it is estimated that oral diseases affect nearly 3.5 billion people. Therefore, looking after your teeth and mouth is a way to ensure good health and less pain during your life. Thankfully, among all healthy life suggestions, tooth and mouth care is one of the easiest to follow through with. In fact, there is no reason – barring any genetic conditions or severe health issues – that you cannot keep your teeth for your entire life.
Having said that, tooth care is so much more than about your teeth or how they look. It’s essential to understand how to care for your teeth, your mouth, and your health because it all goes together. Ignoring your teeth can impact your life in dangerous ways.
Poor dental hygiene can result in severe health complications outside of losing your teeth. Sure, people get upset when they must lose a tooth due to decay, but tooth health can affect the rest of your health too. For example, an infected tooth left untreated can abscess, and the infection can spread to your bones, brain, heart, and other parts of your body, becoming a danger to your life.
In fact, about 8,000 people die each year in the USA due to a lack of dental health care.
To prevent problems, looking after your teeth the right way consistently is crucial. Using medically sound and researched information is always going to yield the best results when it comes to your healthcare, and especially tooth care. The main thing is that if you are paying attention, you’ll notice changes in your mouth health and catch any problems sooner. This saves not only money but potentially your life.
What Is Gum Recession?
Receding gums or gingival recession is a gradual deterioration of your gum tissue, exposing more of your teeth and their roots. Because it is pulled back, you can see pockets form between your gums and teeth and this will allow bacteria to more easily grow and multiply. If you ignore it, problems will arise such as tooth decay, loss of tissue and bone, and tooth loss.
They say that in every problem, there is a solution, but to know the right solution, you have to know first why your gums recede. These are:
- Aging or family history that makes you prone to gum recession.
- Brushing your teeth too hard and using a hard-bristled toothbrush so it slowly erodes the soft tissue of your gums.
- Gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis are caused by a lack of good oral hygiene. The bacteria under your gum line will accumulate and cause swelling and will make your gums recede away from the plaque.
- Hormonal issues such as during menopause or pregnancy.
- Involuntary and consistent grinding of teeth and teeth clenching while sleeping is called bruxism.
- Injury to your gum tissue because of a dental procedure, fall or accident, engaging in contact sports, or wearing partial or ill-fitted dentures.
- The plaque from your teeth cascaded and infected your gum line. This in turn will infect the soft tissue, causing it to swell and pull away from your teeth.
Signs You Have Receding Gums
To confirm if you have receding gums and prevent them from getting worse, you need to consult your trusted dentist as soon as possible. However, here are the signs you can look for yourself.
- Your gums are visibly swollen and inflamed, and some teeth may feel loose.
- As the gums recede, more of the tooth is exposed, so your teeth look longer than when you were younger. Hence the term, ‘long in the tooth.’
- You constantly have bad breath.
- Your teeth become sensitive to hot or cold food and drinks.
Diagnosing And Treating Gum Recession
Aside from family history or genetics, the other causes are thankfully remediable and treatable. One important thing to do is floss! Flossing is a great first step to preventing bacterial problems in the gums and maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
There are medical, cosmetic, and natural remedies you can undertake to prevent receding gums from getting worse.
- Medical treatments and surgical techniques can add tissue to make your gums look healthier and protect the exposed root from decaying. Your dentist or periodontist will determine which is the best option for you or if you are a candidate for one of these treatments. They are administered painlessly with local anesthesia because some gums will be lifted to clean the root of your tooth. Then they will be stretched and repositioned over the exposed root.
- Cosmetic treatments like composite restoration, using pink porcelain, orthodontics, and use of removable gum veneers. Your dentist will cover the exposed root with a bonding compound, hide discoloration, close the gaps in between your teeth, reposition your teeth with braces, or will apply gum-colored veneers.
- Your dentist can give you a custom-made mouthguard if the recession is caused by teeth grinding and clenching of jaws. This is to balance the pressure and protect your teeth. You may also be referred to a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) specialist that has more expertise in preventing bruxism if it’s difficult to control.
Mouthguards can also be used if you play contact sports to protect against injury to your gums and teeth.
- Deep cleaning if you have excessive plaque formation below your gum line to remove the bacteria and stop gum recession. The dentist will use a scaling and planing tool for going below the gum’s surface to scrape the plaque from your teeth.
- Replacing your ill-fitted dentures. Since our gums and jaw change their shape while aging, your dentist should replace or adjust them to avoid continuous rubbing on your gums.
- Have a regular dental check-up every six months. Early detection and treatment can prevent gum recession from progressing.
- Drink more water to stay hydrated and prevent plaque buildup.
- Practice good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth gently and thoroughly. Do it twice or thrice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush, an electric one if possible, and in a circular motion. Floss once a day. Use a prescription mouthwash afterward.
- Use toothpaste that contains fluoride and not a teeth whitener. Whitening toothpaste contains gum irritants like hydrogen peroxide that if used daily may cause more gum recession. You can also choose a toothpaste made to diminish plaque and promote healthy gums.
- Maintain a balanced diet.
- Natural options include using turmeric gel to prevent plaque formation, green tea that helps get rid of gum diseases, and eucalyptus extract chewing gum that protects oral health and stops gums from receding.
Good Oral Hygiene Habits
The first step to addressing gum recession early is to see your dentist. They’ll probably schedule you for a deep cleaning treatment, called “scaling and root planing” where they clean under the gum line to help clear out all the bacteria. You’ll want to continue seeing your dentist regularly for cleanings to combat future buildup near or under the gums.
Once your gums have healed and/or periodontal disease is under control, it is important to take precautionary measures to avoid developing similar issues in the future and stop your receding gums from getting worse. One of the most important things you can do to avoid further gum recession is to brush and floss your teeth twice daily.
Thirdly, if your gums have receded due to aggressive brushing, be mindful of the force you are applying while brushing and use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Eating a balanced diet, avoiding tobacco products, and using an antimicrobial mouthwash will also significantly reduce your risk of gum recession caused by gum disease.
The Importance of Mouth and Tooth Care
The good thing about dental issues is that most problems, like cavities and gum disease, can be prevented through the proper tooth and mouth care. Dental hygiene is about so much more than an attractive smile, although that has benefits too. As mentioned above, dental hygiene can affect all parts of your life and health.
* Chewing and Digesting – Your teeth are for grinding down food so that you can eventually digest it. Not having teeth can adversely affect a person’s nutrition because they lose the digestive benefits of chewing if they eat only mushy food.
* Teeth Help You Speak Clearly – If you have issues with losing teeth due to gum disease or cavities, it can affect your ability to speak clearly.
* Tooth Loss Affects Confidence – If you cannot speak clearly and you are worried about how you look, it’s hard to be confident. If your teeth are healthy and cared for, you will naturally be more confident.
* Tooth Loss Affects Face Shape – If you lose teeth without getting replacements, you can lose gum tissue, and also the shape of your face can change drastically. This can generate an enormous amount of pain, both physically and emotionally.
* It’s Harder to Get a Good Job – If you have teeth missing, it’s harder to get a good job due to other people’s biases. They may not even be conscious, but people do tend to hire people who are more attractive and teeth play a significant role in attractiveness.
In addition to reducing the risks of many diseases, good dental hygiene can reduce your risk of cancer, dementia, and premature birth in pregnancy. Studies show that gum diseases raise the risk of early delivery and miscarriage, and people with healthy gums can reduce their chance of Alzheimer’s by 70 percent.
Finally, the most important step you can take to preserve the health of your gums and teeth and avoid issues like gum recession is to schedule regular dental examinations at least every six months. Scheduling these regular appointments ensures that your dentist or periodontist can monitor your oral health and identify and treat issues like gum recession as soon as possible.
Remember, healthy gums produce a healthy smile. Act now to stop your receding gums from getting any worse.
More on Gum Recession: 15 Easy Ways to Reverse Receding Gums Naturally