Hey everyone, it’s Dr. Nate here at Thrive Dental and Orthodontics with my lovely wife, Dr. Christine, who is also a dentist. And we’re going to be talking about a very important topic today, and that is gum recession.
First off, what is gum recession?
Gum recession is when your gums or your gingiva start to pull away from your teeth, and your root surfaces start to be exposed. The yellow-looking substance is actually your root surface.
It tends to get sensitive because your roots are more porous then the strong enemal that is on the upper portion of your tooth.
How do you get gum recession in the first place?
Number one is poor oral hygiene.
So what is poor oral hygiene? Sometimes you’ll get this plaque or tartar / calculus stuck in your teeth, and I want to explain the difference between the two.
Tartar that’s stuck on your teeth is the calculus. That’s tough, solidified material that you cannot get off by yourself at home. You need to come in and see one of us or see or the dental hygienist, and they’re going to scrape it off for you. Plaque is that material that’s kind of like foamy and has this weird kind of texture on your teeth, but you can get that off yourself if you’re using an amazing toothbrush like a Thrive toothbrush or a Sonicare toothbrush.
What happens if you don’t get that off and you have all this calculus buildup or this tartar build and it just gets more severe. That bacteria goes and gets in between the teeth and the gums and starts to make the gums very inflamed, and it’s going to make the tissue pull away from the tooth. If that goes on for a long enough time, it’s going to pull, and eventually, you’re going to start to see the roots of your tooth. So the moral of the story is if you need a deep cleaning, or if you need a cleaning at all, you should get it done before those roots start to show because of that tartar and that plaque buildup.
If the plaque and tartar build-up and it’s not being properly removed, it’s a chronic infection that’s going on in your mouth, which affects the rest of your health too. It’s not just because it looks bad that we don’t want you to deal with gum recession, but because it leads to bad consequences for your health.
The next cause of gum recession is brushing way too hard or excessively. Never, ever brush with a hard bristle toothbrush because that damages the enamel and can damage your gums as well. And if you’re brushing way too hard with too much pressure, it causes the gums, which are extremely delicate, to start pulling back, which is why we start to see the gums recede.
Always use very, very gentle pressure when brushing. If you’re using an electric toothbrush, let the brush do the work for you and just hold it with very light pressure holding that toothbrush at a 45-degree angle along the gun line.
Isn’t it interesting that our teeth enamel is the strongest substance in your body, but the gums are not so much. That’s why when you’re brushing, you’re probably not going to hurt the teeth as much, but if you’re brushing too hard, you’re definitely going to hurt those gums.
Clenching and grinding
Another reason you may be having some gum recession is clenching and grinding. We know that life can be very stressful sometimes, but if you’re clenching and grinding, what happens is the tooth actually kind of flexes near the gum line, and if it keeps doing that, the enamel and the cementum start to chip off and then actually erodes the gums away from the teeth.
Either you’re clenching or grinding during the day or maybe clenching or grinding at night. So here’s the two solutions for you.
If you’re clenching or grinding during the day, basically, you just need to start learning and realizing that you’re doing that and try to train your mind not to clench and grind. That’s step number one. If you’re stressed, try not to clench and grind down.
If you’re doing it at night, yes, it’s more difficult to wake up in the middle of the night and stop clenching. That doesn’t really happen. So a night guard is a great option for you. That may not necessarily stop you from clenching and grinding, but at least it’s going to protect your teeth. So if it’s happening during the day, try to stop it. If it happens at night, you probably need a night guard, which will help protect your teeth.
All right, the next cause of gum recession is near and dear to my heart because I’m an orthodontist, and that is crooked teeth. Sometimes, people have teeth sticking out too far, especially on the bottom. We call that a crossbite. What happens is you have all this excessive force being pushed on those lower front teeth, and they constantly push them forward and forward. And then what happens is all those, that gum and tooth structure gets damaged, and the gum eventually recedes away from the tooth. And if it gets bad enough, the teeth become mobile, and if it gets worse than that, the teeth actually need to be taken out, and it’s only because the teeth were in the wrong place.
So how do you fix that?
If you’re in the Dallas Fort Worth area, you come into our office, we give you a free consult, hopefully, you get some braces or Invisalign to make those teeth nice and straight, and that is the easiest way. Or if you’re in a different city, just go see your orthodontist, and get those teeth nice and straight because straight teeth are not just for looks, although it is nice, it’s absolutely for function as well.
What’s the problem with having recession?
The problem with gum recession is that now that the gums are receded, they’re pulled back already, and they don’t grow back. So once it’s gone, it’s gone. And so we can’t grow back unless you have some sort of gingival graft surgery or periodontal gum surgery.
Also, now it’s more sensitive, and so you’re always going to have that sensitivity every time you eat anything cold, it’s there. And then now you’re at a higher risk for getting cavities because, like we said, roots are more porous. So decay and all kinds of issues can happen to those exposed areas.
Another issue with gum recession is that it leads to tooth mobility or even tooth loss eventually, because as the gums recede away, so do the ligaments and eventually the bone as well. Therefore the tooth is no longer supported.
Okay. So you may be saying, okay, dr. Nate, christine, i have gum recession. What do i do?
Okay, step number one, if you are sensitive, an easy fix that I do sometimes is to use a toothpaste called Sensodyne. That will help the sensitivity that you get because the root is showing and is more pores.
Step number two, if it is more severe than just that, quite a bit of the root is showing, you may need to see your dentist or a dental specialist, which we call a periodontist, and they can do some different gum grafts or different surgeries to help with various gum surgeries.
Number three, well, if you have this, you might already be too far beyond this, but prevention is key, right? So if you’re coming in for your six-month cleanings, if you need a deep cleaning, you need to get those things done because once the gum is gone, like we mentioned, it’s not coming back and it’s really quite a bit more expensive, quite a bit more time consuming to fix the problem once they’ve already occurred you, the best way to fix this is never to get it in the first place.
Come in for your regular cleanings, and make sure you’re brushing and flossing to keep those teeth beautiful, nice, and clean.
All right, so now you know what gum recession is. You know that it’s your gums leaving or moving away from your teeth. But we’re not done here. We’re not done here. You’re probably wondering now what the difference is between deep cleaning and healthy mouth cleaning. You can click the video above here, and that is going to give you the best, most informed answer to that question, and we cannot wait to see you guys in the next video.