How to Protect Your Smile From Receding Gums

Portland dentist Dr. Todd BEck

At South Waterfront Dental, Dr. Beck’s top priority is to keep the smiles of our patients looking and feeling their best. While a brilliantly bright smile might suggest that you enjoy quality oral health, there’s another part of your smile that’s easy to overlook: your gums.

Our gum tissue provides the support and strength needed to hold our teeth into position. When oral health problems, such as gum disease, begin to slowly deteriorate gum health, our teeth can begin to shift, move, and eventually fall out. So even if you enjoy great looking teeth, you still need to have healthy gums in order to maintain your smile.

One common condition that requires the attention of Dr. Beck is gum recession. Gum recession is just another way of saying the gums that surround the base of your teeth have begun to pull away. When this occurs, the delicate roots of your teeth become exposed, making teeth appear longer.

While natural wear is bound to happen over the years with something we use as frequently as our teeth, gum recession can cause far more havoc than a simple cavity. Here’s how you can tell if your gums have started to recede, how gum recession can impact your oral health, and what you can do to keep your teeth looking and feeling their best.

What Does Gum Recession Look Like?

As you might expect, having your gums recede doesn’t look or feel particularly great. Once your gums start to recede, you should start to see a thinning of the gum tissue that surrounds the base of your teeth. You may even be able to see and feel how the tissue has thinned along the gum line.

Increased sensitivity to hot and cold stimuli is one of the first symptoms you may notice. This includes a sharp, stinging pain that you feel after drinking or eating something hot or cold, or a pain that occurs during brushing. Other symptoms you may experience also include:

  • Tender, red, or swollen gums
  • Gums that bleed easily, especially during brushing
  • Teeth that have become loose, separated, or appear visibly longer
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Oral sores
  • Misaligned bite
  • A change in the fit of your dentures

How Gum Recession Impacts Your Oral Health

Our gums act like a wall that keeps harmful bacteria from reaching the delicate roots and nerves that lie beneath. When healthy, our gums fit snuggly around the base of our teeth like a turtle neck sweater. However, if food debris, plaque, and oral bacteria are allowed to accumulate along the gum line, the collar of our sweater begins to unravel, becoming loose and inflamed. This inflammation travels down the root surface of our teeth and begins to break down the underlying bone structure that holds our teeth into position.

When allowed to go untreated, gum recession can lead to a variety of other serious oral health problems, including gum disease and permanent tooth loss. This is especially problematic, not just for your smile, but for your overall health as well. Numerous studies have found links between gum disease and tooth loss and a number of chronic health conditions that include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia, and cancer.

How to Prevent Gum Recession

Early prevention is the best option when it comes to keeping your gums healthy. Once the health of your gums begin to deteriorate, it becomes far more difficult to restore them back to health than it is keeping them healthy to begin with. This makes preventative care the most effective line of defense. Here are a few basic tips that will help keep your gums healthy:

  • Brush twice a day. Brushing helps to remove harmful oral bacteria and food particles from the surface of your teeth. By consistently removing these substances from your teeth, you prevent the development of inflammation that leads to gum disease and gum recession.
  • Floss daily. Flossing is the other half of the equation when it comes to basic oral hygiene. Flossing works to remove plaque and food particles from areas of your mouth a toothbrush cannot reach: between your teeth and below the gum line. Allowing these harmful substances to accumulate below the gum line is even more detrimental to your oral health, so don’t skimp on the flossing.
  • Schedule regular checkups. Frequent checkups with Dr. Beck and the rest of our team at South Waterfront Dental offer the added level of protection need to keep your gums healthy. Regular exams allow Dr. Beck to spot the early signs of gum disease when still easily treatable, while cleanings provide our team of gentle dental hygienists with the chance to remove plaque deposits that have developed along the gum line

A healthy smile needs healthy gums. Don’t take your gum health for granted, schedule your next dental exams with Dr. Beck and our team at South Waterfront Dental today!