It’s no secret that everyone wants a white smile they feel great about showing off. This may lead some to be a little more aggressive than necessary with their morning routine – adding the whitening toothpaste to your toothbrush, and scrubbing the entirety of your mouth with what you believe is enough vigor to remove the yellow stains that have accumulated.
The thing is, that hard brushing isn’t going to do the trick – proper oral hygiene and maintenance will help to give you that white smile, without the extra pressure. Being a little too forceful with your toothbrush can lead to a problem no one has in mind when they’re just trying to get their teeth to that nice shade of white. This problem is known as gum recession.
Gum recession may appear to be an aesthetic issue at first, but can become more of a health concern as the problem persists. Before we get into monitoring and treating gum recession, let’s first take a look at the symptoms that accompany it, so you’ll be able to recognize and identify any future problems.
Symptoms of Gum Recession
● Bleeding After Brushing or Flossing
Many people brush this off if they notice a little blood from time to time after their oral hygiene routine, but this seemingly small occurrence could be indicative of a bigger problem. If you notice this frequently, it’s best to book an appointment with your specialist to have a thorough exam done.
● Bad Breath
If this symptom extends beyond just your morning breath, it may be time for a trip to the dentist. It’s not common knowledge that bad breath can indicate more serious dental problems, so if you do notice, it’s best to get it checked out – better to be safe than sorry!
● Teeth Appearing Elongated
A common misconception some have during the early stages of gum recession is that their teeth appear to be getting longer – when this symptom presents itself, quite the opposite is happening.
If your teeth are starting to look longer, this is due to your gums starting to recede. Over time, this can expose the roots of the teeth, and cause minor to severe pain and discomfort when eating, drinking, brushing, you name it. If you notice this aesthetic issue, contact your specialist right away for an exam.
● Pain and Sensitivity at the Gum Line
This will be the biggest indicator of a problem – actually experiencing the pain and sensitivity that can occur. Due to how extreme pain and sensitivity can drastically impact your life, you should book an exam at the first twinge or wince you experience.
The pain typically stems from the roots of the teeth slowly becoming exposed over time – naturally, these roots are extremely sensitive when they are no longer covered by gum tissue.
● Tooth Loss
If the recession becomes severe, actually losing teeth becomes a reality. There are many other symptoms that present themselves before the problem persists enough to result in actually losing teeth, so there is plenty of time to see a specialist before having to deal with this far more severe symptom.
If you notice your teeth are loose for reasons you can’t identify, it’s important to see a specialist as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Early detection is key for proper treatment, and the preservation of your natural teeth.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you’ve personally identified with any of the symptoms listed above, the next step is seeing a specialist, and getting your diagnosis so you can move forward.
Your first step will be an official diagnosis from a dentist, who can then refer you to a periodontist, who will take over your treatment plan from there. Periodontists specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease, and seeing one as soon as possible will ensure you’re in expert hands.
The periodontist may use a probe to measure how far the gums have receded, in order to diagnose the severity of the problem. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research states that normal gum pockets range in size from between 1 to 3 millimetres – anything larger than those measurements is a sign of gum disease. Your periodontist will be able to determine where exactly you fall, and take the next required steps for better oral health.
Treatment can encompass a few different areas, such as medication, and surgery. Let’s first take a look at what medication may involve:
Medication will apply if an infection is found in the gums – infections are a pressing issue, and will have to be treated as soon as they’re identified in order to prevent further issues. Your periodontist will prescribe antibiotics to properly treat the infection before it can spread, or worsen.
Topical treatment is also an option, depending on the severity, and how far the problem has progressed. This can include gels and mouthwashes that will pinpoint the source of gum recession, and help to target it. You periodontist will be able to determine which works best for your individual case, and prescribe accordingly.
In some of the more severe cases of gum recession, surgery may be left as the most viable solution to eradicating the issue.
Surgery typically consists of a graft. The dental surgeon taking care of you will take tissue from a donor area of the mouth to apply to the affected area to solve the issue of recession. From there, the borrowed tissue will be left to heal over the affected area, and with proper maintenance and care, you’ll have restored oral health.
When it comes to your oral health, prevention and preservation is the best strategy for a lifetime of great dental hygiene. There are many ways to prevent gum disease and recession that you can incorporate into your everyday life. These methods include:
● Scheduling regular hygiene appointments. Ideally, you’ll want to see your dentist every six months to maintain optimal oral health.
This is because over time, plaque and tartar build-up on the surface of the teeth and harden. This hardened plaque cannot be removed by a toothbrush and floss at home; only dentists have the tools and equipment to properly eradicate it. They can also check for early signs of gum disease and recession, and begin to treat early symptoms before they can become a real problem.
● Brushing your teeth regularly, but softly. Remember to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and clean your teeth with gentle strokes in order to handle the gums with care.
Remember that buildup can easily lead to periodontal disease if left untreated. It’s important to be extremely diligent in cleaning your teeth in order to keep your teeth and gums intact for life!