It's a nice, hot summer day, and you're getting ready to dive into that ice cream cone, when all of a sudden you feel a big OUCH! What was that tingling sensation you just felt? It sounds like a case of tooth recession. This is when the gums recede or pull away from the teeth. This leaves the root surface exposed. Since the root surface does not have a hard enamel covering as the crown (top) of the tooth does, the root may become sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, air, sour or spicy foods and sweets. When you can see the roots of the teeth, this is recession already in progress.
- Gum disease.
- Aggressive toothbrushing.
- Smoking/tobacco use.
- Tooth misalignment.
- Exposed root surfaces.
- Redness and swelling of the gums.
- Tooth appearing longer than normal.
The key to preventing recession is to treat early signs of gum disease. Keeping gums healthy will prevent infections from destroying the gums and exposing root surfaces. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and light pressure to avoid trauma to the gums and to eliminate recession is also another preventive measure. Giving up tobacco is imperative because tobacco use causes direct tissue irritation and can exacerbate gum recession. The wearing of a nightguard will help with grinding, which can reduce the risks of tooth recession as well. Following proper oral care and having twice-per-year dental hygiene visits can also assure that gum disease will not lead to recession. Limit sugar and acidic foods, which can allow bacteria to thrive, cause tooth recession to progress and cause sensitivity and root decay.
Gum recession is a common dental problem that occurs gradually. The first sign is usually tooth sensitivity, or you may notice that a tooth looks longer than normal. Sometimes a notch can be felt near the gumline too. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, if excessive recession is present, a procedure known as a "gum graft surgery" must be performed by a dental specialist known as a periodontist. This involves repositioning gum tissue from the palate or another source to cover the recession on the tooth surface. Tooth recession is a progressive condition. Your dentist may recommend using a desensitizing toothpaste to help with tooth sensitivity. The use of Colgate® Sensitive Pro Relief toothpaste can help those with recession already in progress if the tooth or root is sensitive. Generally speaking, good dental hygiene is your best defense against oral health problems, including gum recession.