Gum recession is a serious oral health risk

Have you noticed your gums bleeding or are they swollen and red? Perhaps you have noticed nothing out of the ordinary and feel no pain in your mouth at all. In either case, you could have the start of periodontal disease, also known as gum disease or gum recession.

Gingivitis, swollen and bleeding gums, is the early stage of far more serious oral health issues involving gums pulling away from teeth, lost teeth, and bone loss. In fact, tooth decay and gum recession are two of the most concerning threats to adult dental health.

Gum recession defined

We are lectured from an early age to always brush our teeth but do you remember lessons on the importance of taking care of our gums? We can’t have healthy teeth without healthy gums and the best way to keep gum recession at bay is diligent oral care. Once gum recession gets started, it can lead to much more dire consequences.

Gum recession is the acute inflammation of the tissue that surrounds and supports our teeth. It is a common affliction that often appears mildly as gingivitis, which consists of bacterial infections causing the buildup of plaque and tartar, and eventually inflamed gums. In the grand oral health scheme, gingivitis is usually painless and treatable but left to its own devices can turn into significant tissue damage, loose or lost teeth, and even deterioration or loss of bone structure.   

Gum recession—a critical oral health concern

Gum recession is a very determined affliction, progressing slowly but steadily and beginning as merely a nuisance. While it’s true that beet red gums swollen and streaked with blood certainly don’t look the best, the more serious issue is what comes next.

Receding gums expose the roots of our teeth, which are naturally designed to live below the gum line. Tooth roots are not protected with a layer of enamel and instead covered in what is called cementum, which when exposed quickly decays and is a fast track to cavities and sensitivity to hot, cold, and anything sweet. Even worse, without a strong foundation, teeth are likely to fall out.

What’s to blame for gum disease?

We all eat every day, several times a day and it’s inevitable that pieces of that food gets stuck in the paper-thin space where our teeth meet our gums. This location is below the gum line and it takes regular brushing and flossing to adequately remove wayward food chunks and hold back the bacteria that forms and covers our teeth in plaque. When plaque becomes well established it turns into tartar and the presence of tartar below the gum line is a bad thing, causing the aforementioned swelling and bleeding.

It is possible to slow and reverse this process with a proper brushing and flossing regime but if left unchecked, receding gums can evolve to serious forms of periodontitis.

Advanced stages of plaque become tartar and if tartar evolves below the gum line, the gums turn red, swell, and often bleed. The condition can typically be reversed with brushing and flossing but if not treated properly, can move to more serious periodontitis in which the gums actually pull away from the teeth and develop pockets. Pockets in gums are prime locations for infection and in the heat of your immune system’s fight against the issue; some bacteria might sneak away and inflict further damage to surrounding soft tissue and bones. This in turn can lead to tooth or bone loss.

Causes of gum recession

What is the cause of all this oral mayhem? Gum recession is the result of many different factors and the key to preventing the condition from taking hold, or controlling it when it starts, is understanding. Unfortunately, some people will succumb to gum recession regardless of their responsible oral care but staying aware of common risk factors goes a long way in staying ahead of the game.

Your most effective strategy to control and treat gum recession is early detection and sound oral health habits. Warning indicators for gum recession are many; pay attention to them and you can dodge unpleasant outcomes. In the meantime, brush and floss twice a day and see your dentist regularly.  

For more information on gum recession, contact Star White Dental at (951) 291-0668 or starwhitedental.com.

6 tips to help you recover faster from gum graft surgery

Not often considered as a strong and critical component of our bodies, our gums are nevertheless very tough stuff and the key ingredient of course for holding our teeth in place. Unfortunately, without proper oral care or bad habits such as smoking, high alcohol volume, or even bad genetic luck; periodontal disease (gum recession) can take hold.

Gum disease is a bad thing. Simply stated, it is an infection in the tissue which holds your teeth in their designated locations. Once infection gets started, it wears away the gums and exposes more of the tooth’s root, which brings with it high sensitivity and increases the chance for bacteria to settle in and cause further issues.

Gum disease happens very gradually and it’s difficult to notice until you have bleeding or sore gums, or even begin losing teeth. At this stage, gum graft surgery is recommended to repair the immediate problem and prevent further, more damaging, issues.

But wait, surgery of any kind is typically not something to look forward to and most people cringe even more when discussing surgery inside the mouth. However, the good news is gum graft surgery is a relatively simple procedure and following a few tips during the recovery phase will help return you to 100 percent in no time. First, let’s look briefly at what gum surgery entails.

Gum grafting surgery 101

It sounds intimidating but gum surgery (also known as gingival graft surgery) isn’t that bad. It is actually a straightforward outpatient procedure involving the removal of a small portion of tissue from the roof of the mouth and stitching it to areas where the gum has receded.

After surgery, you will feel some effects of the medication as well as localized pain to a mild degree. After about a week things will start returning to normal but in the meantime there are six handy tips to follow to make your post- gum surgery life substantially more enjoyable.

  1. Get the stent

If your surgery involved using your own tissue rather than from a tissue bank, the roof of your mouth will remind you of that fact. If your dentist did not offer or suggest a stent to protect your palate, ask for one. A stent will greatly reduce bleeding and keep your tongue and food pieces away from the wound until the stitches come out.

  1. Antibiotics to the rescue

Antibiotics are typically prescribed to patients after gum surgery to help prevent infection. This is important. Follow the instructions and run out the entire course to keep infection in check.  

  1. Pain meds and ice are your friends

Most patients experience facial swelling and sometimes bruising near the site of gum surgery. A tandem of pain medication and ice packs will ease what ails you. For best results with ice, start using cold packs on your face right after leaving the dentist. Then continue applying every 20-30 minutes through the entire day. Swelling will intensify further as healing kicks in and ice treatments are a saving grace.

Ice will go a long way in keeping the pain at manageable levels but if you’re still hurting, head to the pharmacy and pick up some over-the-counter medication. If you still have significant pain, talk to your dentist right away for other options.

  1. Be smart with your diet

After your surgery, it’s time to be very savvy with what you eat and drink. Most importantly, avoid hot or cold foods and beverages. The shock of hot or cold will hurt like mad and may cause further swelling and you don’t want that. Go for items of neutral temperature.

Soft food is the answer. Think bananas, oatmeal, eggs, mashed potatoes, and the like to avoid irritating the surgery site.

Opt for a liquid diet for the first week or so. Drinking soup and some stews through a straw is a good approach. Really anything that won’t hurt your teeth works great.

  1. Light exercise ONLY

You might want to get right back into your athletic warrior routine but hold up. No strenuous exercise for two full weeks. Period.

  1. Rest

Of all the above remedies, rest is the one you simply can’t do without. Relax and let your body heal.

For more information on recovering from gum graft surgery, contact StarWhite Dental at (951) 228-0635 or starwhitedental.com.

StarWhite Dental

Veneers have been used in the dental field for over 3 decades, making them one of the most sought-after procedures for concealing stains and other imperfections. Today, many consider composite resin veneers to be the most modernized choice. However, porcelain veneers are the arguably superior option. If you’re wondering why, keep reading. Here are a few reasons why you should spend a little extra and choose porcelain veneers to reshape your smile.

Porcelain Veneers Are Stain Resistant

Did you know that more than a quarter of composite veneers stain within the first decade of use? With this in mind, it is good to know that porcelain is non-porous and smooth, which renders is much more resistant to stains and discoloration. However, even if you opt for porcelain, be aware that you will get the best results if you generally abstain from specific foods and drinks that are prone to staining the teeth. For you coffee and wine fanatics out there, this does not mean you have to give them up entirely, just enjoy them in moderation and make sure to brush and floss regularly.

Unmatched Durability

Ideally, your brand new veneers should last for a long time. In addition to cutting down on time spent at the dentist, reliable veneers will keep your smile looking fresh. The typical lifespan for composite veneers is anywhere from 5 to 7 years, while porcelain veneers boast a lifespan of 10 to 15 years. So in addition to staying white for a much longer period of time, porcelain veneers are more resistant to scratches, chips, and scuffs. If price is an issue, factor in the extra 5 to 7 years of longevity afforded by porcelain veneers and you’ll see that they are usually the better deal.

The Stabilizing Effect

One overlooked benefit afforded by veneers is their ability to stabilize damaged teeth and prevent them from becoming more damaged in the future. Porcelain is an ideal material for this task, so you don’t have to worry about a crack or chip in one of your teeth ruining your smile. However, be aware that veneers cannot save every tooth. If you have questions in this regard, be sure to speak with your dentist. Odds are they will be able to help you determine the most viable path forward for each individual tooth. While the wait may seem a little agitating, the end results are well worth it.

Porcelain Provides A Greater Amount Of Adjustment

Another advantage porcelain veneers have over their composite counterparts is adjustability. Composite veneers are inherently limited in terms of discoloration and the ability to cover cracks of all shapes and sizes. Porcelain, on the other hand, can cover almost any type of damage. So if you are looking to fill small gaps in-between teeth, or even adjust the look of moderately crooked teeth, porcelain is the way to go.

When It Comes To Color…

One of the most advantageous aspects of porcelain veneers is the ability to fine-tune the color, shade, and tint of each tooth. This facilitates a much more natural smile that what composite resin veneers are capable of. So if maintaining a naturalistic appearance is important to you, porcelain is your new best friend.

What About Teeth Whitening?

Many people prefer porcelain veneers to regular teeth whitening sessions. This is largely because teeth whitening causes tooth sensitivity, makes teeth more porous, and only achieves temporary results. On top of that, teeth that undergo regular whitening are actually more likely to become stained after contact with substances such as wine or coffee. Compared to the broad degree of customization afforded by porcelain veneers, there really isn’t much of a contest. However, be sure to consult with your dentist before making a decision one way or the other.

All in all, porcelain veneers are the perfect option for a beautiful smile. No matter whether your goal is to reshape or whiten your smile, realign your teeth, or improve your self-esteem, porcelain veneers are sure to leave a lasting impression.

Regardless of what veneers or cosmetic procedures you opt for, StarWhite Dental is here to help. Give them a call today to discuss your treatment options and find the procedure that works best for you.