Over the years, you may notice that your teeth are apparently getting longer because your gums are shrinking away. That, or you’ve just come back from a visit to your local dentist or periodontist specialist and he or she has mentioned that this is happening. But why is it happening? What causes it and what can you do to stop it? There are a few explanations, but most cases boil down to a single cause.
Gum disease is most often caused by the bacteria that live in your mouth and consume your enamel. The bacteria can extend into your gums, causing a mild infection that might not hurt but does cause bleeding and bad breath. It also causes your gums to shrink away from the infection site. This doesn’t happen overnight, but over time it can expose the roots of your teeth. Not only does this give the bacteria more room to grow, it can also lead to loose teeth since your gums help anchor your teeth in place and protect the bone that anchors them.
There are a few things a periodontist can do to treat receding gums. In some cases, all they need to do is give your teeth and gums a thorough cleaning. If you can keep up with cleaning your teeth on your own, the bacteria that caused the problem will stay gone and your gums will grow back to at least some extent.
However, sometimes a basic cleaning isn’t enough, especially if the bacteria have caused some damage to the bones beneath your teeth. At times like this, a periodontist might suggest surgery. This might involve cutting the gums back to treat the undersides directly, and afterwards they might attach some graft tissue to encourage the gums to grow back. However, in either case, you’ll have to do your part by brushing and flossing regularly to make sure the bacteria doesn’t return and damage your gums and teeth again.
Your gums don’t recede naturally as a part of aging, they recede because of bacteria or irritation from sources like lip piercings and tobacco products. There are a few treatments and surgeries that can help your gums return, but the best way to deal with receding gums is to brush and floss regularly so that they won’t start shrinking in the first place and to visit your dentist every six months so he or she can inspect your mouth and treat any problems that come up before they can become worse.