Dry Mouth: Causes, Effects, and Prevention
NO ONE LOOKS FORWARD to getting “long in the tooth” because of gum recession.
While tooth length might be an accurate yardstick for judging the age of a horse, age is not the culprit behind receding gums in humans. Gum recession is such a gradual process that it can take decades before the effects are noticeable.
Not All Gum Recession Is Avoidable
There are many contributing factors to gum recession. Unfortunately, some of these factors include genetics, while some people simply have fragile gums or don’t have enough jaw bone covering the front of their tooth roots to support gums up to the crowns of their teeth. The good news is that many of the other contributing factors can be controlled, and even if you’re predisposed to gum recession, there are ways to minimize its effects.
Bruxism Versus Your Gums
Chronic teeth-grinding, or bruxism, causes a whole host of problems for your oral health. One of these side effects is an increased risk for gum recession. The forces from grinding put too much pressure on the gums, causing them to retreat. Bruxism can be a difficult habit to break, especially if you’re doing it in your sleep. Wearing a custom made night appliance is one way to minimize damage to the jaw bones, gums and teeth.
Overbrushing Damages Gum Tissue
It might sound counterintuitive, but you can actually brush your teeth too much or, at least, too hard. Brushing teeth isn’t like scrubbing the grime out of tile grout; gums are not built to withstand the abrasive assault of hard-bristled brushes, and neither is the enamel on our teeth. Soft bristles are actually ideal for scrubbing away plaque and massaging the gums without causing damage. The same principle applies to flossing; you should definitely floss once a day, but be gentle to your gums.
Tartar Buildup And Gum Disease
When plaque isn’t removed by brushing and flossing, it will eventually harden into tartar, which can only be removed by dental professionals. This means that the longer you go without a routine dental cleaning, the more tartar builds up along your gum lines, putting you at risk for gum disease.
In the early stages of gum disease, also called gingivitis, the health of your jaw bones is not yet at risk. If your gums are tender, swollen, and bleed easily, it is likely gingivitis, which means gum recession may still be avoidable. You can combat gingivitis with healthy brushing and flossing habits, and it is also wise to see us for routine care.
If untreated, gingivitis advances to become periodontitis. This is when gums start pulling away from the teeth and the integrity of the jaw bones is compromised. At this point, better oral hygiene habits are not enough and professional treatment is absolutely necessary. There are many risk factors for gum disease, including smoking, hormonal changes (like during pregnancy), diabetes, and dry mouth.
Help Us Help You Keep Those Gums Healthy!
If you’re worried about the structure and health of your gums, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with us! We can help you get your gum health back on track and discuss treatment options that fit your individual needs. Please call (217) 698-9300 to schedule an appointment.
We’re rooting for you!
Top image by Flickr user Lachlan Hardy used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.