Gum recession refers to the change in your gum line, moving further towards the root of your tooth. This recession exposes small or large amounts of the root of the tooth. Unlike the crown of the tooth, which is covered in enamel, the root is covered in a much thinner, porous and weaker material referred to as cementum. Because the cementum does not provide the same coverage that enamel does, it causes sometimes severe sensitivity to cold, hot or acidic foods. It also can't hold up to heavy tooth brushing, and can wear away the tooth through abrasion. Prevention of gum recession will save a lot of trouble down the road.
It's all in the brush
It's all about the brush, and how you brush. Always choose a soft toothbrush, never medium or hard. When brushing, ease up on the brush. Keep in mind that the plaque you are removing is soft, so there's no need to scrub. Brushing your teeth too hard can actually increase your risk of developing receding gums over time.
Don't forget to brush
While you want to be careful with the toothbrush you use and your technique, you definitely want to brush and floss every day. Just as brushing too hard can cause your gums to retract, improper care of your teeth can cause the same problem. Irregular or poor brushing and flossing, as well as a lack of professional dental cleanings, generates gum recession.
Whether you smoke or use smokeless tobacco, both aid in the development in gum recession. Smoking restricts blood flow through the gums, and causes the gums to recede. Smoking causes all sorts of health problems, and is one of the leading forces of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease eventually leads to tooth loss.
Crowded teeth, oral piercings, genetic predisposition and accelerated orthodontic treatment are a few other ways that retract gums. These means to recession are less common, though dentists are seeing more cases of problems with piercings of the lip and tongue.
Sensitive teeth caused by a receded gum line can be painful and a constant problem. There are several topical medicaments to try and block the open tubules of the tooth, but they are not always successful. Gum grafting and capping are far more invasive procedures to treat a sensitive and receded gum line, but in some cases it is the only source of relief. If you are concerned about preventing gum recession or you believe you already have it, make an appointment to see your periodontist.