Humans are an emotional species.

Not only have we created spoken languages to express ourselves, we’ve developed an equally complex form of nonverbal communication known as body language. Did you know that we’re the only creatures on the planet that use smiling as a form of expression. It’s the most basic form of communication, crossing all cultural barriers. Knowing that, it’s no wonder we spend so much time and energy trying to keep our smiles looking their best. 

With your daily brushing and flossing at home and your regular checkups at the dentist, your goal is protecting your teeth from decay and discoloration. But there’s another risk that most people overlook: receding gums. The good news is your daily brushing/flossing routine helps defend against gum recession, but the team at South University Dental Associates wants you to know there’s more you can do to prevent receding gums.

What Is Gum Recession?

Gum recession is a form of periodontal disease (a.k.a. gum disease) marked by a visual pulling back of the gums from the surface of your teeth. At its worse, gum recession can expose the actual root surface of your teeth, causing increased sensitivity that can be quite painful. 

Beyond the oral health concerns, receding gums pose cosmetic problems as well. When gums recede, your teeth start to appear abnormally long. Plus, with the relaxed grip, so to speak, your teeth are able to move and adjust more easily than they usually are when secured and protected by healthy gums. Without proper treatment, receding gums can lead to tooth loss.

How Do You Protect Your Teeth from Receding Gums?

Experts estimate that three out of every four adults suffers from some form of gum disease, including receding gums. Gum disease is a progressive oral health condition that begins as gingivitis. It starts similar to the way cavities form in a tooth, with a buildup of bacteria and plaque within the gum tissue that surrounds the tooth. 

Over time, this buildup forms plaque, which left alone will damage the gum tissues and cause it to pull away from the tooth. What’s left is an opening for even more bacteria to sneak in, forming even more plaque and exacerbating the problem. That’s why it’s so important to stop gingivitis from progressing into gum disease… but how do you do that? Let’s take a look.

1. Brush Your Gums

Don’t feel bad if this sounds odd at first. The team at South University Dental Associates  is used to seeing odd looks on faces when they tell patients they need to do a better job of brushing their gums. Most people assume brushing and flossing their teeth is all they have to worry about, but it’s crucial that you include your gums when brushing. We can’t emphasize the importance of cleaning your gums enough, as this is where germs thrive. The microorganisms feed on the gum tissue, causing painful recession.

2. Floss Regularly

Flossing helps to remove food particles that are hiding in the small spaces between your teeth, protecting them from decay. Most people understand that. But it’s important to know that regular flossing also protects your gums, as those same food particles are a breeding ground for the germs that would eventually invade your gum tissue. 

3. Stop Using Tobacco

Did you know that smoking is one of the most common causes of gum recession? It’s true. The smoke irritates and eventually destroys gum tissue… but smokeless tobacco is no safe. Chewing tobacco or snuff causes a great deal of gum irritation and can lead to recession even more so than smoking. Often, chewing tobacco is manufactured with tiny crystals that actually cut up your oral tissues, so it doesn’t take a giant leap in logic to see how big a danger smokeless tobacco poses. 

4. Use a Soft Toothbrush

Think about it: using anything but a soft-bristle toothbrush is just counter intuitive when the goal is to protect your gums from receding. Toothbrushes with hard bristles can irritate and damage your gums more than they actually clean. This unnecessary irritation only increases your chances of receding gums. 

5. Use a Bite Guard While Sleeping

If you are one of those people who chews on things like pen caps and toothpicks when you’re stressed? Do you grind your teeth at night? If you’re answer is yes, then you should consider wearing a bite guard (a.k. an occlusal splint) at night or anytime you’re feeling the urge to chew on the nearest pencil. Your seemingly innocuous habit is actually increasing your chances of gum recession. 

6. Visit Your Dentist for Regular Checkups

This one step cuts across all oral health concerns. Routine dental checks are a great way to catch gingivitis dead in its tracks before it turns into periodontal disease and receding gums. The team at South University Dental Associates can identify early signs of the problem and start you off on the best course of treatment to prevent further problems.

Fargo's Leading Restorative Dental Office

If you brush and floss regularly, as well as follow these six steps to protect your gums from receding, you will be well on your way to maintaining that perfect smile. But if your smile isn’t what you want it to be, contact South University Dental Associates, Fargo’s leading restorative dental office. The team will be happy to examine your teeth and gums and put you on the right path.