Did you know that more than half of the US population suffers from receding gums? This means that your gums pull away from your teeth, leaving the roots of your teeth exposed. While this condition is common, it can have many negative effects.
Signs of Gum Recession
If your gums are receding, you may notice that your teeth look longer than normal and may feel sensitive due to the exposed tooth roots, explains the Mayo Clinic. When your teeth are sensitive, foods and drinks that are hot, cold, sweet or sour can cause pain or discomfort. Your teeth may also be sensitive to pressure—like from a toothbrush—or to the air. Cavities on the roots of the teeth are another consequence of gum recession. If you think your gums are receding, it’s important to see a dentist right away.
Causes of Gum Recession
Gum recession can occur as a result of gum disease. Gum disease affects many American adults to some degree, and it’s caused by the bacteria in the plaque on your teeth. If this plaque isn’t regularly removed, your gums can become inflamed due to the bacteria—leading to disease. As the condition advances, your gums start to pull away from your teeth.
Gum disease isn’t the only cause of receding gums. It can also be caused by physical trauma, such as when you brush your teeth too vigorously. Aggressive flossing can also traumatize the gum tissue and lead to recession. Oral piercings, like lip or tongue rings, have also been linked to localized gum recession, according to Dentistry Today.
Others factors—like the position of your teeth or your genetics—can also play a role. When teeth erupt outside of their protective bony housing, they may have thin or no gum tissue with exposed roots. If your parents have thin gums that are easily damaged by trauma, you may have inherited the same trait.
Preventing Gum Recession
To protect your gums, follow a good oral hygiene routine. Brush your teeth twice a day with gentle pressure and a soft-bristled toothbrush and carefully floss once per day. While you may feel like you need to scrub to get your teeth clean, there’s no need to be aggressive with your toothbrush or floss since force isn’t necessary to get rid of plaque.
Seeing a dentist regularly for professional teeth cleanings is also essential. Even if you’re brushing and flossing regularly, you could still leave some plaque on your teeth, and this plaque will harden into tartar. Tartar can’t be removed at home, but your dentist can remove it with ultrasonic and hand tools. Removing this tartar helps to keep your gums healthy. Usually, these visits should happen every six months, but your dentist may recommend a different schedule based on your individual oral health needs.
Encouraging Healthy Gums
To help your employees protect their gums at home, distribute a newsletter that explains proper brushing or flossing techniques. You should also remind your employees to see their dentist regularly for cleanings.
A recent study of dental-benefit use revealed that one-third of adults with private dental benefits go a year without seeing their dentist, so encourage your employees to use the benefits that you’re providing. For example, offering flexible scheduling may make it easier for your employees to fit in dental appointments around or even during their work days.
Receding gums can lead to unpleasant oral effects like changes in the look of your smile, sensitive teeth or even cavities, so it’s important to take steps to prevent this condition before it leads to bigger problems down the road.