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When Your Grin Is Too Toothy: Causes And Treatment For Gum Recession

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Receding gums can affect the appearance of your smile and sensitivity of your teeth. When your gums recede, the root of the tooth -- which is not protected by hard enamel -- becomes exposed. If you have noticed increased tooth sensitivity near your gum line, it's important to talk to your dentist. They can help discover the cause of your receding gums and hopefully help you stop the recession before it gets worse. 

Causes of receding gums

There are many causes of receding gums, and many of them are treatable. Here are the most common reasons why people experience gum recession:

brushing too hard. Many people brush their teeth aggressively, which stresses the gums and causes them to recede. A soft hand while brushing is plenty when cleaning your teeth. You should also never use anything other than a soft toothbrush when brushing, and be gentle when you floss. When brushing your front teeth, use an up and down motion, scooping gently away from the gums. Avoid brushing too brusquely when moving the brush horizontally.

clenching the jaw or grinding the teeth. Many people grind their teeth during sleep. The pressure causes stress on the gums, eventually causing them to pull back over the teeth. You may also be unconsciously clenching your jaw when stressed, frustrated, or angry. Talk to your dentist about getting a mouth guard if you grind your teeth at night. Remind yourself throughout the day to refrain from clenching, allowing your jaw to rest easily in a relaxed position. 

poor tooth alignment. Sometimes, when you have a poor bite, your teeth will rub against one another too much, which causes similar stress that occurs when you grind your teeth. This can be corrected most of the time with orthodontics, or in extreme cases, oral surgery. 

poor dental hygiene. When you are not properly caring for your mouth, periodontitis sets in. The inflammation of the gums causes them to recede. You can prevent this problem by properly brushing, flossing, and rinsing your mouth after eating and before bed.

genetics. Unfortunately, some people have perfect tooth care habits, but still suffer from gum recession because they are genetically disposed to the condition. Look at the teeth of your parents or siblings -- if many of them have similar struggles, you might talk to your dentist about treatment options you might need when the recession becomes severe. 

Treatment options

Sadly, once gums have receded, the lost coverage over your tooth roots cannot be regained. Gums do not restore themselves, even if you make changes to your dental hygiene habits. You can talk to your dentist about:

living with recession. For mild cases, further treatment is not necessary. You will have to be careful to brush lightly, wear a night guard if you need one, and stay on top of dental exams to make sure your teeth are still in good health. 

root planing. For roots that have been exposed, deep cleaning can be needed to keep your teeth healthy. Root planing is typically used to help treat gum disease and can help to stop gum recession caused by poor dental hygiene. 

gum grafts. For very severe gum recession, surgery is needed to restore the tissue. Typically, tissue from the roof of your mouth is used to patch the areas where the gums have pulled back. After the gingival tissue has healed, it will be like your gums have been restored. 

Gum recession can be a serious dental problem if it is not addressed properly. For more information on symptoms, causes, and treatment of gum recession, talk to your dentist about your personal dental habits or check out the site.