Dental sensitivity due to gingival recession, which is also known as receding gums, and exposed root surfaces can seem to strike out of nowhere. This dental issue can produce pain from eating or drinking hot or cold beverages and make brushing and flossing very uncomfortable. On the other hand, some people don’t realize they have sensitive spots until they come in for a cleaning appointment and it’s revealed during dental scaling.
Learn more about gingival recession here:
Gingival recession, also known as receding gums, is the exposure in the roots of the teeth caused by a loss of gum tissue and/or retraction of the gingival margin from the crown of the teeth. Gum recession is a common problem in adults over the age of 40, but it may also occur starting from the age of a teenager, or around the age of 10. It may exist with or without concomitant decrease in crown-to-root ratio (recession of alveolar bone).
There are many possible causes for gingival recession:
- By far the most common cause is gum disease (periodontal disease) Inadequate brushing and flossingallows bacteria to build up between the teeth and below the gum line, which leads to painless, chronic inflammation of the gums and gradual recession, with increased tooth mobility as the supporting bone is lost.
- Overaggressive brushing which causes the enamel at the gum line to be worn away over time by scrubbing the sides of the teeth in a washboard fashion.
- Improper flossing (i.e., flossing too roughly or aggressively) which may cut into the gums.
- Hereditary thin, fragile or insufficient gingival tissue predisposes to gingival recession.
- Excessive clenching and grinding of the teeth (Bruxism) can sometimes worsen pre-existing periodontal disease. By itself, bruxism may cause a reversible increase in tooth mobility, but not any gingival recession.
- Stomach acid damage from self-induced vomiting, which may be associated with certaineating disorders.
- Dipping tobacco which affects the mucous membrane lining in the mouth and will cause receding gums over time.
- Self-inflicted trauma, such as habits like digging a fingernail or pencil into the gum. This type of recession more commonly associated with children and persons with psychiatric disorders.
- Scurvy (lack of dietary Vitamin C).
- Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis.
- Adult orthodontic movement of teeth.
- Abnormal tooth position, such as tooth crowding, giving inadequate cover of one or more teeth by the jaw bone.
- Piercings in the lip or tongue that wear away the gum by rubbing against it.
- Intentionalgingival retraction.
- For example, the adult tooth may not grow out of the gum, and to remedy this, a procedure called an exposure is done. It involves the gum tissue being cut open to allow the adult tooth to grow out. This is a less common cause of gum recession. Additional info at Wikipedia
Anatomical and Hereditary Issues
When you brush and floss consistently, it can be hard to accept that you have receding gums. But, there can be numerous causes in play. Dr. Robert Harrell and his team at ADOB will assess your mouth with a comprehensive dental exam to identify problematic areas and set a course of treatment. For example, some people discover they are clenching their teeth at night when the telltale smooth grooves on their molars are discovered. This extra pressure can cause tenderness and speed up gum recession and root exposure in some patients. In other cases, there are hereditary and anatomical factors responsible — such as simply the way your adult teeth moved into place. Presented here are more signs and symptoms:
Gum disease is an inflammation of the gum line that can progress to affect the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth. The three stages of gum disease — from least to most severe — are gingivitis, periodontitis and advanced periodontitis.
Signs & Symptoms
Gum disease can be painless, so it is important to be aware of any of the following symptoms:
- Swollen, red, tender or bleeding gums
- Gums that recede or move away from the tooth
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in mouth
- Loose teeth
- Visible pus surrounding the teeth and gums
Don’t Skip Your Dental Checkups Due to Sensitivity Issues
As a patient with gingival recession, the thought of someone working on your tender gums can cause anxiety and even lead to missed appointments. Rest assured that your dentist knows that pain from gum disease is a concern for many people. Making you comfortable is their top priority, which is why they have a variety of dental sedation options available for patients.
Between appointments, here are some tips for dealing with sensitive teeth you might want to try:
At least 40 million adults suffer from sensitive teeth in the United States, according to the Academy of General Dentistry.
The pain is often sharp and sudden, but it is temporary. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the pain may shoot into the tooth’s nerve endings. Fortunately, sensitive teeth can be treated and the condition can improve.
The following are some at-home treatments suggested by the Cleveland Clinic:
- Desensitizing toothpaste. There are several brands of toothpaste for sensitive teeth available. Your dentist may recommend one or you may have to try different brands until you find the product that works for you. Be sure to use fluoridated toothpaste for sensitive teeth, not tartar-control toothpaste. Try spreading a thin layer of the desensitizing toothpaste on the exposed tooth roots before bed.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Avoid highly acidic foods.
- Use a fluoridated mouthwash daily.
- Avoid teeth grinding. Consider getting a mouth guard. See more at Live Science
Every time you have a dental appointment, the hygienist will check to see if there are any indications of gum disease. This is one of the main reasons maintaining a regular dental exam schedule is vital to your oral health. With the early stages of gum disease often going undetected by patients, it is helpful to have the experienced eyes of your dentist and hygienist available to keep your mouth as healthy as possible.