Too Little Gum Tissue
Have you lost gum tissue over the years?
If you have gum recession, then you’re probably familiar with the zinging pain that happens when ice water or sugar hits those recession spots. You may have also noticed that the areas with recession are yellower than normal and are more sensitive to brushing. (Read more on gum grafting for recession.)
Why does it matter if I have a little less gum tissue?
For starters, recession matters because it compromises the special gum tissue that attaches the gums to the teeth. When this gum tissue called attached gingiva is lost, it is like losing the seal around the teeth that keep the bacteria out of the gums and bone. When this is compromised, plaque and bacteria gain an easier entry around the tooth root and into the bone. People with recession get gum disease more easily and gum disease leads to tooth loss. Not fun.
If I already have recession, can I fix it?
Yes. Fixing recession means first fixing whatever caused the recession such as overbrushing or an unbalanced bite. Once the cause has been eliminated, a dentist can graft new gum tissue to the area where it was lost replacing the seal and slamming the door on bacteria trying to get under your gums. In the meantime, ask your dentist about using prescription fluoride varnish that you can use to reduce the sensitivity while you’re waiting.
Why spend money replacing lost gum tissue?
Recession often seems so minor to people because the only problem they feel is the shooting pain from cold or sugar. Why should they spend good money replacing lost gum tissue when they can just drink or chew on the other side of their mouths? Well, if the sensitivity was the only issue, we’d simply treat recession with flouride desensitizing varnish or composite bonding for protection. The real problem with recession is that it opens the door to bacteria and infection under the gums, around the teeth and into the bone.
How did I get recession?
The most common thing that causes recession is overbrushing. You probably weren’t expecting that, were you? When we brush with too much pressure or with too hard of bristles, we destroy the gum tissue. The key is to use a soft toothbrush and proper toothbrushing technique. If you’re not sure what proper toothbrushing looks like, ask your hygienist at your next cleaning. She’ll be happy to help you find a technique that works well for you.
An Unhealthy Bite
An unhealthy bite can cause recession because it doesn’t spread the force of chewing evenly across the teeth. When chewing pressure isn’t distributed evenly, some teeth get pounded more than others. Over time this destabilizes the connection or seal between the tooth, the bone and the gum tissue causing recession.
Recession also happens when people genetically have thinner gum tissue. Thinner gum tissue is more susceptible to damage and infection.
Repositioning the teeth during orthodontic treatment outside of their normal bony place could jeopardize the gum tissue around them, leading ultimately to recession.