Have you ever noticed you’re often in the dark about having put on weight until the day you need to don that dress or suit that’s been hiding in the closet since last year? Progressive change can be difficult to notice, especially when it occurs to us and not someone else. Changes that occur along our gum line certainly fall into this category, and given the measurement used to gauge erosion is measured in millimeters, it’s no wonder it’s easy to miss. So, how much erosion is normal, and what causes it? Let’s take a look.
Unfortunately to most, gum recession is considered to be a normal part of aging. Even the expression “long in the tooth” stems from the age-old story that as we get older, our gum line tends to recede and expose more of the surface of our teeth. But there really is nothing “normal” about gum recession, and for most of us, it can actually be prevented. So, unless you’re inclined to keep things as they are, and embrace gum recession as the well-paid price of wisdom, we can help.
First things first. There are a host of factors that contribute to the erosion of your gumline. The best part is the VAST majority of these causes are preventable.
The biggest offenders:
- Clenching or grinding your teeth
- Over-vigorous, or improper brushing
- Aggressive flossing
- Exposure to acids in sports and energy drinks
- Tobacco use
- The frequent use of whitening products
All of the above causes of gum loss can be prevented. All of them. If you grind your teeth at night, you can wear a mouth guard. If you brush as though you’re sanding down the statue of David, learn proper technique from your dentist, or from a video online. Bleeding a lot when flossing? You’re not slicing cheese – go easy, there, friend! If you smoke, drink too many energy drinks, or chew tobacco, cut back, or stop altogether. None of that stuff is good for you in any way imaginable. And lastly, if you’re actually trying to look like Ross from the show “Friends” by abusing whitening strips, you can stop now, your teeth have got to be super-white already!
What’s next? How can you tell if your gums are receding faster than the Amazon rainforest? Well, the most proactive step you can take is to visit your dentist. In fact, if you’re going regularly, your dentist has been monitoring your recession for some years now. If you’ve ever noticed your dentist poking around in your mouth with a metal object you can’t see, all while reciting numbers to the hygienist, he’s probably doing two things: measuring the recession of your gums, and the depths of your gum pockets. Both speak to the health of your gum line.
So, the next time you hear your dentist reading off what seem like lottery number choices, just ask how your gum-health is going … they’ll be happy to keep you in the loop.
The first sign of gum recession is usually tooth sensitivity, so be on the lookout for this tell-tale sign. Reduce, or eliminate the above discussed habits, and ask your dentist how you’re doing in terms of taking care of your gums. With a little bit of knowledge and proactive behavior, no one will be saying you’re “long in the tooth” any time soon, and you’ll still be able to maintain your sage status. And, that’s a good thing.