Enjoy a youthful, healthy smile at any age!

When we hear the term, “long in the tooth,” it generally has to do with old age. Long teeth of animals, horses in particular, are thought to indicate an advanced age.

Teeth really don’t get longer with age, however. They appear to be longer due to several factors that reduce the position of gum tissue, with age being one of them.

A smile is much more than the rows of teeth visible when we smile. The tooth roots below the gums have important roles, as does the gum tissues that surround them.

To protect the sensitive root portion of teeth, each is wrapped at its base by gum tissue. When the gums pull away from the teeth, roots are more vulnerable to the damage of oral bacteria.

Without the protective seal of gum tissue, sensitive roots become exposed to hot, cold or the bristles of a tooth brush. Gum recession is quickly realized when consuming things hot coffee or ice-cream that causes a sharp jolt of pain.

The process of gum recession is gradual. Most people do not notice it until they have pain in the area. Although there are a number of reasons it occurs, part of the natural aging process leaves gum tissues drier, and thus some recession.

However, recession can be accelerated by other causes. It may result from:

• Over-zealous tooth brushing: Scrubbing in a back-&-forth motion with a hard-bristle tooth brush can wear down enamel as well as gum tissues. Also, abrasive substances such as baking soda are too gritty for teeth and can wear down gum tissues as well as tooth enamel.

• Poor oral hygiene: Without thorough and regular brushing and flossing, oral bacteria accumulate. This forms a sticky film known as plaque, which soon hardens into calculus. Calculus is a cement-like substance that is a massive colony of oral bacteria. These bacteria thrive by feeding on gum tissues.

• Periodontal (gum) disease: When bacteria accumulate on teeth at the gum line, they destroy healthy gum tissues. As they are weakened, the tight seal of gums at the base of teeth loosens. This allows for easy entry of oral bacteria, which can lead to damage to the tissues and supporting bone below the gum line.

• Grinding & clenching teeth: When you clench or grind your teeth during sleep, the force placed on teeth can be so severe that the teeth tilt out of position. Eventually, the gum tissues can pull away from teeth.

• Hormonal changes: Pregnancy, menopause and puberty cause changes in hormone levels. These hormonal fluctuations can cause gums to feel tender and be more vulnerable to recession.

• Smoking: When saliva flow is insufficient to effectively rinse bacteria from the mouth, bacteria readily accumulate. The chemicals in tobacco are terribly drying to oral tissues, which creates an ideal environment for the formation of plaque, leading to calculus. As mentioned prior, calculus is a build up of oral bacteria that destroys gum tissue and contributes to recession.

• Misaligned teeth: When not properly aligned, teeth undergo added force when biting and chewing. This can also place strain on the TMJ (jaw joints), gums and the bone that supports tooth roots. This can also contribute to gum recession.

While seeing dark portions of teeth in a smile detracts from its appearance, it also leaves teeth more susceptible to decay and gums more vulnerable to gum disease. For comfort, appearance and the health of your teeth, repairing gum recession before problems occur can save greatly in time and expense.

Gum recontouring procedures are performed in our Demotte dental office comfortably and quickly. However, it is important to repair recession before it becomes severe. Call 219-987-5733 to learn more or request a free consultation appointment. During this time, we can discuss treatment options, costs and easy payment plans.