Gum recession is when the gum around your teeth moves down, exposing your roots and making the teeth look longer. This condition also causes the triangle spaces between the teeth to look larger. Enamel is a very hard coating on the upper part of teeth, but it does not extend onto the root area. Roots are a softer, bony type of material called dentin. Dentin is weak and cavities can easily form through it. Dentin is also very sensitive to both cold and touch.
Causes of gum recession
There are many causes of gum recession. These include (but are not limited to) gum disease, tooth brush trauma, grinding/biting force trauma and mouth jewelry. If you have gum recession, you should be suspicious of one or more of these factors as the cause. To accurately determine the cause, we recommend an examination in our clinic. Below we will go over the possible causes in a little more detail.
Gum disease is causes primarily by plaque. Plaque is the soft, white coating that forms on teeth every day. This coating is actually a colony of microorganisms (bacteria), and it can cause cavities as well as gum disease. If left on teeth, it can also mineralize into a hard substance that a tooth brush will not remove. This is known as tarter. Learn more by reading our gum disease article.
Tooth brush trauma occurs when gum disease is caused by rough, daily brushing of teeth. If brushing is not done carefully, the toothbrush can actually damage the gum line. This usually happens with a hard toothbrush, and can often be prevented by switching to a soft bristle brush. Try to brush with the gums instead of against the gums. This video has useful instruction on how to properly brush your teeth (skip to 2:20)
Grinding/biting force trauma is another common cause of gum recession. If you grind your teeth at night when you sleep, or if you clench under stress during the day, this leads to unhealthy and excessive forces acting on the gums. To solve this, a night guard should be worn at night.
Mouth Jewelry such as lip rings, studs and tongue rings can cause gum recession on the side of the teeth that they are located on. This recession can occur if the jewelry is rubbing against the gums in an irritating and damaging manner. If this is occurring, the obvious preventative treatment would be to stop wearing the jewelry, or switch to a stud design that does not poke into the gums. Mouth jewelry is also a major cause of tooth fracture through accidental biting.