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.