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What is Gum Recession?

June 30th, 2015 | Posted by Jeffery R Van Treese DDS in News - (0 Comments)

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Gum recession is a common dental condition that occurs gradually over time. The first sign of gum recession is sensitivity, or you may notice the tooth looking “longer” than before. Sometimes you may even be able to feel a notch above the tooth.

Gum recession is when the tissue surrounding the tooth wears away, exposing the more of the tooth and root. The exposed root is made of dentin, which is softer than the enamel of your teeth. It may appear more yellow. Recession can cause gaps or pockets that allow bacteria and food to become trapped, causing more advanced gum disease. If left untreated, the gum tissue and supporting bone can become so severely damaged, that the tooth may be lost.

What causes gums to recede?

Periodontal disease (gum disease) is the main cause of gum recession. Bacterial infections in the gums destroy gum tissue and bone that hold your teeth in place. Improper home oral health care can lead to gum recession. Brushing your teeth aggressively or with a hard bristle tooth brush can actually wear away healthy gum tissue. Without proper brushing and flossing, tartar can build up between the teeth and along the gums and contribute to gum disease. Tobacco users are more likely to have sticky plaque that can build up on the teeth as well.

Hormonal changes, such as pregnancy can make gums more susceptible to gum disease. Genetics are also a factor between gum disease and recession.
Besides the risk of chipping teeth, piercings of the lip or tongue can rub the gums and irritate them to the point where gum tissue is worn away.

Certain physical activity such as grinding or clenching the teeth can cause enough force to cause gums to recede. Teeth that are not in proper alignment may also contribute to gum recession by uneven distribution of the forces of chewing.

Gum recession can be treated. Mild recession may be able to be treated with “deep cleaning” or scaling to remove the hard tartar build up and allow the gums to heal and reattach. More advanced cases may require referral to a periodontist, a dentist who specializes in diseases and treatment of the gum tissue. The periodontist will recommend the best course of treatment for you.

The best way to help prevent gum recession is to begin with proper oral health care. Always use a soft bristled tooth brush and floss daily. Follow your dentist’s recommendation for professional dental cleanings. Remember, with regular dental visits, your oral health care provider will be able to closely monitor the health and condition of your gums, and can advise treatment for clenching, grinding or even recommend braces if needed. If you use tobacco products, your dentist can be a great support in helping you quit.

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There are a lot of stories about dentistry throughout history. One of the most famous if of our own founding father, George Washington. When we hear stories about our first President, we often hear his dentures were made of wood. Even in school, teachers would mention this fun information, but is there any truth to it?

Well, the answer is yes…and no! It is most likely that our founding fathers denture base (or artificial gums) was made of wood, very common at the time, but the teeth would’ve been from a different source: other people’s teeth! Most likely from soldiers who had died in battle.

Much of the history of dentistry is pretty intriguing. From the first recorded ‘doctor of the tooth’, Hesy-Re, an Egyptian who lived around 2600 BC; to Aristotle, the famous philosopher, who wrote of an ancient form of braces to straighten teeth; to the father of modern dentistry, Pierre Fauchard, who, in 1728, was the first to apply a jeweler’s enamel over a thin gold plate.

Here are a few more fun facts from this fascinating history:

1. Queen ElizabethistoricalblogIMGP7967h was known to have discolored teeth. Why? Due to a popular and ancient myth, she believed in something called a dental worm that burrowed into teeth and caused sharp pain. To combat this ‘worm” she consumed copious amounts of sugar!

2. The first bristle toothbrush was invented in China during the Tang Dynasty and was made from stiff hogs hair!

3. The Maya Civilization used sea shells to replace teeth and are the earliest known example of dental implants (implants placed into the bone or, in this case, the mandible).

4. From the 5th to the 15th century you could have your dental work done by your barber! ‘Barber-surgeons’ could give you the latest style and pull a few teeth while your hair was drying! This combination profession often performed surgery on the battlefield and in their shops and this the reason barber poles are red and white today!

These are just a few of the historical facts dentistry has to offer.

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file000814384772This is one of the most frequently asked questions and the answer is yes.  Although it is a relatively simple question, with a simple answer, there are many aspects of a new patient appointment that you may not know.

For the residents of Sidney, a new patient appointment is an important step in developing a trusting relationship with your oral health care providers and establishing your dental home.  Yes, there will be some paperwork to complete, but this information is necessary to provide you with the best care.  Most patients will see their oral health care provider two times per year, but will only see their medical doctor if they are sick. This means your dentist has the ability to screen for subtle changes in your overall health.

The visit begins with series of questions pertaining to your previous dental care.  It is important for you to freely communicate any past experiences that may have been unpleasant or uncomfortable for you, as well as express your primary reason for seeking dental care.  Your dentist wants to understand what is important to you, while helping you achieve optimum oral health.

Dental x-rays will be taken as part of your comprehensive exam.  Modern digital x-rays require very little radiation exposure and are instantly displayed on a computer screen.  These x-rays allow the dentist to see below the gums as well as the areas between the teeth, and are a critical diagnostic tool to detect cavities or an abscess.

Measurements of the gums will be taken.  Larger numbers are an indication of an infection that can be treated.  Active gum disease has been linked to diabetes, pneumonia, high blood pressures, pre-mature and low birth weight babies, tooth loss and even Alzheimer’s disease. 

Your oral health care provider will then perform an oral cancer screening.  This is a non-invasive exam using an instrument called a “Velscope”, which can detect tissue lesions that may require further testing.  The Velscope exam is an excellent visual tool, however a manual exam of the head, neck and throat is performed to detect any lumps or bumps that may be present.  Early detection is critical in the treatment of oral cancer.

All previous dental restorations (fillings), including crowns, bridges, missing teeth or implants are recorded as part of your dental record.  Healthy patients can be scheduled for their routine dental cleaning.  Patients with gum disease will receive a treatment plan to address their specific condition.

As you can see, so much information is gathered and recorded at your new patient visit and will become an important part of your health file.  Visiting with a new dentist is an opportunity to have a comprehensive look at your total health and is a time for you to establish a trusting relationship with your new oral health care provider.  A healthy mouth is part of a healthy body.

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