Why Do I Have Receding Gums?
A diagnosis of receding gums can be confusing and worrying to many dental patients. Officially known as gingival recession, this situation is usually identified by sensitivity in the teeth, exposed tooth roots and a loose feeling in a tooth or multiple teeth. Sometimes, the gums may bleed regularly or appear swollen and red in color. Other times, patients do not notice that their gums are receding, since the process can happen slowly over several years. A dentist or dental hygienist can help to identify whether or not a patient has gums that are receding and may recommend a course of treatment, such as gum grafting in extreme cases.
The causes of receding gums
Gum recession is caused by several different factors, with many patients experiencing different reasons for the process.
A matter of age
Commonly, receding of the gums is often noticed once patients reach the age of 40. It can be experienced by patients in their teens and young adulthood, but age is often a regular factor in the identification of the problem. This is thought to be due to the gums enduring years of sub-optimal treatment. As adults age, hormones can fluctuate; this can also contribute to gum sensitivity and recession in female patients.
The onset of periodontal disease
Colloquially known as gum disease, periodontal disease occurs in almost 50% of adults over the age of 30, with increasing regularity as adults age according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is caused by poor brushing habits that lead to gum inflammation from plaque and tartar on the teeth. This inflammation can erode the gums and make them recede.
Incorrect brushing habits
Though many people learn how to brush their teeth as young children, sometimes the best practices are ignored as adults. Aggressive side-to-side brushing has been found to increase gum erosion, leading to receding gums. Using circular brushing movements or investing in an electric toothbrush with circular motions programmed are both great ways to correct destructive habits.
Infrequent dental visits
When patients visit the dentist irregularly, the dentists may not catch the signs of gum recession in time to avoid pain and damage. Dental professionals are trained to identify the markers of gum recession and recommend treatment to patients. Dentists and dental hygienists can also scrape away destructive tartar as well as teach patients how to floss correctly. A routine of good dental practices is key to preventing the gums from receding.
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, certain people may be more likely to develop gum recession due to genetic factors. Discussion of health trends within a family and its history can be a great place to discover whether a patient is genetically likely to face gum erosion or recession. While there is no treatment for genetic predilection to gum recession, the knowledge of the likelihood of developing gum issues can help patients make healthier dental choices.
Understanding the causes of receding gums can be a helpful way for patients to evaluate personal decisions and improve dental care. Regular brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist are excellent places to start caring for teeth and gums.
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