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Gum Recession Can Harm Your Oral Health and Your Smile

GumRecessionCanHarmYourOralHealthandYourSmile

Your gums don't just attractively frame your teeth—they protect them as well. If they shrink back (recede) from their normal covering, portions of the teeth could become exposed to bacteria and other hazards.

Unlike the visible crown, which is protected by enamel, the tooth root depends largely on the gums as a shield against bacteria and other hazards. When the gums recede, it exposes the roots and makes them more susceptible to disease or trauma. It may also cause sensitivity to hot and cold foods as the now exposed dentin gets the full brunt of temperature and pressure sensations once muffled by the gums.

There are actually a number of causes for gum recession. In rare cases, a tooth may not have erupted normally within its bony housing, which inhibits the gums from covering it fully. Thinner gum tissues, passed down genetically, are also more susceptible to recession. And a person can even damage their gums and cause them to recede if they brush too aggressively.

The most common cause, though, is advanced periodontal (gum) disease. This bacterial infection arises from dental plaque, a thin biofilm that accumulates on tooth surfaces, usually because of poor hygiene practices. As the infection and resulting inflammation in the gums worsens, they lose their attachment to teeth resulting in a number of harmful outcomes that include recession.

The first step then in treating gum recession is to treat the underlying problem as much as possible. In the case of gum disease, effective treatment could stop mild to moderate recession and sometimes reverse it. For more extensive recession, a patient may need gum grafting surgery to help regenerate lost gum tissue.

You can help prevent gum disease, and thus lower your risk for recession, with daily brushing and flossing to remove bacterial plaque. Likewise, see your dentist at least twice a year for dental cleanings to remove any residual plaque and tartar (hardened plaque).

You should also visit your dentist promptly if you notice swollen or bleeding gums, or more of your teeth surfaces showing. The earlier your dentist diagnoses and begins treatment for gum recession, the better your chances for a healthy and more attractive outcome.

If you would like more information on maintaining good gum health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Gum Recession.”

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  • "Dear Jay,

    I have been to the dentist here in Raleigh,NC twice since coming here from Morristown, NJ (and the magnificent dinner in Westfield with you, your lovely wife and Ginny Williams) and both times the dentist has said, "Wow! Whoever did your dental work was a real professional. You need nothing done except a routine cleaning."

    Jane and I miss you. And your exquisite professionalism. And, of course, we miss much more your friendship."
    Roland P. Perdue
  • "I recently switched to Dr. Schuster and am so happy I did. He is an amazing Dentist and the nicest person in the world. The work he has done for me has be nothing but amazing.

    Thanks much!!!!"
    Irene Scanlon
  • "Dear Dr. Schuster,

    Jay, really nice crown. Now THAT’s the way dentistry should be done:)

    Thank you for allowing me to participate in the care of your patient. I will of course keep you apprised of any changes if they occur. If I may be of any additional assistance regarding this or any other patient, please feel free to call.

    With best personal regards,"
    Mitchell H. Davich, DMD, FACD, FICD