What causes gum recession?

By Yvonne Vannoort, The Dentist

Gum recession happens when the gum moves slowly up the tooth surface over time; it can take years. This exposes the root of the tooth which is usually sensitive.

You may then feel cold air you breathe in and/or cold foods and drinks. A ridge in the tooth often occurs at the gum line.

Why does this happen? The answer often given is that you have brushed your teeth too hard and have worn away the gum and tooth, and there is some truth to this.

The other reason, generally overlooked in the past, is that clenching and grinding teeth puts stress at the gum line of the teeth and causes recession. This clenching and grinding is commonly linked to stress.

Now, there is recent recognition of a link to snoring and sleep apnoea as our brain responds to a compromised airway during sleep.

So the things to take care over are these:

  • Don’t ignore tooth sensitivity, it’s the body telling you something isn’t right. Your dentist can check if this is due to recession or other issues that need attending to e.g. decay.
  • If you have recession do take care. Brush gently so you don’t wear the exposed tooth surface away and therefore create further sensitivity and abrasion.
  • Ask your dentist if the abraded areas should be filled to protect further damage or decay.
  • Avoid drinking acidic drinks often, e.g. soft drinks, wine or even lemon water as they will erode receded tooth surfaces further.
  • Visit a hygienist regularly so receded areas can be monitored and future problems avoided.
  • Be aware of the link between recession, clenching and grinding and sleep disordered breathing. We can monitor your sleep at home if you would like to rule this out as a cause.

Please give us a call! We would love to help you.

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