How to Stop Gum Recession in its Tracks
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), half of Americans aged 30 or older have periodontitis, the most severe form of gum disease. If you do the math based on the current US population, approximately 64.7 million Americans live with gum disease and have some degree of gum recession. So it should come as no surprise that gum disease remains one of the most pervasive oral health issues. When left untreated, gum recession that results from gum disease can have a significant and oftentimes negative impact on your life. If you want to prevent the ramifications of gum recession, read on to understand how to stop it in its tracks.
Before we share how to stop gum recession, let’s start by understanding some crucial facts about this dental condition. Understanding the causes and risk factors for periodontal disease is a great place to start.
Risk Factors for Gum Recession and Gum Disease
The primary contributing factor for gum recession is plaque, but other factors affect the health of your gums too.
- Age: Those age 65 and older are at a greater risk of developing gum disease. And though the older we get, the more important our dental care becomes, getting into a good oral hygiene regimen starts when we are young.
- Smoking and other tobacco use: Not only is the use of tobacco products correlated with cancer, lung disease, and heart disease, but tobacco users are also more susceptible to gum disease.
- Genetics: Despite your best intentions and the best at-home oral hygiene regimen, some people are more prone to developing gum disease than others. As such, it is essential to make regular visits to your dentist so they can assess the health of your teeth and gums.
- Stress: Not only can stress lead to medical concerns, such as hypertension, cancer, and other health problems, it is also a risk factor for periodontal disease.
- Medications: Some prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, including oral contraceptives, antidepressants, and certain heart medicines, can take a negative toll on your oral health. Be sure to inform your dental provider of any medications you are taking and advise them if there have been any changes to your medical health history.
- Poor nutrition and obesity: Eating a well-balanced diet is essential for a variety of reasons. But, most specifically, a diet deficient in essential vitamins and other nutrients can compromise your body’s immune system, making it harder to fight off infection. Periodontal disease begins as an infection, so poor nutrition can worsen the condition of your gums.
- Clenching and grinding your teeth: The act of clenching and grinding your teeth places unnecessary and harmful force on the tissues that support them. As a result, it can accelerate the rate at which periodontal tissues are destroyed. If you frequently clench or grind your teeth, be sure to let your dental provider know. In many cases, you will be prescribed a nightguard to help lessen tooth grinding damage on your teeth.
- Other systemic illnesses: Certain illnesses and diseases can interfere with your body’s inflammatory system, thus worsening the condition of your gums. In particular, these illnesses include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Signs and Symptoms of Gum Recession and Gum Disease
Now that you understand the causes and risk factors for gum disease, it is important that you also know how to recognize the signs and symptoms of gum disease too. The most common signs and symptoms include the following:
- Gums that feel tender when touched
- Halitosis (bad breath) that won’t go away
- Loose adult teeth
- Painful chewing
- Pink-tinged toothbrush after brushing
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- Receding gums or longer appearing teeth
- Red, puffy, or swollen gums
- Sensitive teeth
- Spitting out blood when brushing or flossing your teeth
- Tender or bleeding gums
Preventing Gum Recession in 5 Important but Simple Steps
Now that you understand the causes and risk factors for gum recession and the signs and symptoms, the next step is to know how to stop it from happening in the first place. The truth is when it comes to preventing gum recession, a diligent oral hygiene regimen is critical. But unfortunately, many people overlook their gums and focus on their teeth only. Unfortunately, you can’t have a bright white smile without healthy gums, so read on to understand how to keep those gums healthy and intact.
1. Brush twice daily with the right toothpaste.
Believe it or not, there is a right and wrong way to brush your teeth. To do it the right way, brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Brush your teeth at a 45-degree angle and move the toothbrush in short, circular strokes rather than back and forth or up and down. Be gentle, as too much pressure on the teeth and gums can cause more harm than good. Clean the insides of your front teeth by turning the brush vertically and making several short strokes along each tooth.
2. Floss once a day.
Flossing removes food particles that get stuck between your teeth and gums. When these particles are left behind, it leads to tartar. And it doesn’t matter if you floss before or after you brush or the time of day that you do so. But, many patients find that brushing as part of their morning or bedtime ritual helps them either start or end their day with a cleaner mouth. That said, pick the best time for your schedule, then commit to flossing daily.
3. Rinse with a fluoridated mouthwash once per day.
Seek a therapeutic fluoridated mouthwash at your local convenience or grocery store that will help prevent gum recession and disease. The right mouthwash will reduce the rate of tartar buildup, reduce the amount of plaque on your teeth, and remove food particles trapped between your teeth and elsewhere in your mouth. But no matter what you do and how fresh your breath might be after rinsing with a mouthwash, don’t use your daily mouthwash rinse as a replacement for your two-times-a-day brushing or once-a-day flossing. The best approach to prevent gum recession is to follow all five of these suggested tips. They are not intended to be an either-or strategy.
4. See your dentist every six months.
Brushing, flossing, and rinsing with a fluoridated mouthwash will help you keep a healthy smile and will indeed help stop gum recession in its tracks. But for the healthiest mouth, you need to get professional dental cleanings too. When you see your dentist every six months, your dentist can perform an oral examination to check for any existing fillings, crowns, bridges, implants, root canals, or prosthetics; make a note of any missing, chipped, broken, or decayed teeth that need attention; check for early signs of throat or mouth cancer; assess your jaw joint for signs of TMD, and more.
These are assessments that you can’t do at home. But more so, your dental team will conduct a thorough dental cleaning and remove any plaque and tartar buildup that brushing can’t do on its own. Your dentist will also assess you for signs of gingivitis and can work with you on a gum treatment plan if necessary.
5. Stop the use of tobacco products and choose a healthy diet.
If you smoke, chew, or vape tobacco or other products now is the time to stop. Smoking is known to weaken the immune system and make you more susceptible to gum disease. Using other tobacco products can also increase your risk of gum disease too. Not only should you refrain from using tobacco products, but you should also ensure that you consume a healthy diet. Incorporate high-fiber fruits and vegetables, black and green teas, and dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt into your diet. Also, drink fluoridated water and eat some poultry and seafood to increase your fluoridate consumption.
The Tory Hill Dental team can help you stop gum recession in its tracks.
By following the above suggestions, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing gum recession and gum disease. And when our gums and teeth are healthy, we are less likely to need to make a trip to the emergency dentist. So, if you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of gum disease or require a dental cleaning, now is the time to request an appointment with the best dentist in Buxton, Maine.
We look forward to seeing you and helping you stop gum recession in its tracks.