In a world where first impressions are everything, you can’t afford anything less than a flawless image. Whether you’re hunting for a job or looking for love, how you look will play a big role in how people treat you. Trust me; you can get through to anyone by flashing a sincere smile. A smile can brighten up a sad day for just about anyone – but this has to be a healthy smile.
Teeth may not be the largest part of the body. But coupled with the gums, they play an essential role in our health. Without your teeth, chewing becomes a challenge. Imagine not being able to chew crunchy vegetables like carrots and fruits, apples and pears. Imagine no more nuts! The world would surely be coming to an end for me. I can’t even stomach the mere thought of life without my cashews man!!!
Here is something to chew on. Did you know that people with 25 teeth or more usually eat more nutritiously than those without? If you are not sure how many teeth you have, time-out, get counting. While keeping healthy teeth and gums is simple, you need to be cautious not to develop receding gums. If you have already started to notice receding gums, here is how you ought to deal with the situation. That’s right; welcome to Olivia’s dental office.
What Are Receding Gums?
Also referred to as gingival recession, receding gums refer to the exposure of teeth roots. The roots of your teeth are usually covered by dark or healthy pink tissue called gingiva. Gum recession is quite common in individuals aged above 40. However, in some rare cases, it may develop early on in life.
The fact that it is normal doesn’t mean you should ignore or procrastinating its treatment. Why? Well, in most cases, it acts as a symptom of gum disease which may lead to the loss of teeth. Gum recession is difficult to repair. It is even worse as it does not grow back. As such, early detection and its correction are imperative.
Causes Of Gum Recession
a. Poor Oral Hygiene
You know that you should brush your teeth at least twice in a day. If possible, it should be done after every meal. This will keep your teeth clean and your breath fresh. Now I dare not ask if you follow this since having the knowledge and implementing it are two different things. As it is said, it is easier said than done.
But for the sake of this piece, let’s assume that you do (even if you don’t). When brushing and adhering to the twice/thrice in a day brushing routine, the question becomes, how hard should you brush? And which is better? A hard or soft bristled brush?
Most people have the notion that to get rid of plaque, they have to be very vigorous and aggressive in their brushing. The other day I came across a video of a man brushing his teeth so fast and so hard like he was sanding them – it was hilarious.
In addition to brushing hard, individuals believe that using hard-bristled toothbrushes is better. The assumption is that these get rid of plaque effectively. Well, these assumptions are off target. If anything, they are primary causes of gum recession.
It would do you good to remember that plaque is soft material that can easily be removed using a soft toothbrush and soft brushing. Any plaque that proves hard to get rid of using a soft-bristled toothbrush is a calcified plaque. This type of plaque should only be left to professionals.
This is a factor I’ve seen in play at the office. I’ve noted that older colleagues have more gum recession than the younger ones (Sorry Jerry!). And this is just not in my head. Research has been conducted and documented. One such study revealed that gum recession increases about 3.5% with every passing decade. This is as a result of increased time using abrasives including hard bristled toothbrushes, medications that disrupt oral cavities and get in the way of proper dental hygiene, and periodontal disease.
I will not get into the details of the health risks associated with smoking. By now, if you smoke, you are well aware of what you have gotten yourself into and are okay with it. What I will mention though is the fact that smoking is related to bone loss, bad breath, oral and throat cancer. In addition to these, smoking also contributes significantly to gum recession. Studies conducted reveal that smoking is associated with the development of generalized or localized gingival recession in all smokers regardless of their age.
d. Clenching and grinding
The leading cause of this condition, and one that many do not consider is grinding and clenching of teeth. With constant grinding and clenching, the enamel close to the gums naturally thins. If the grinding and clenching persists, then the thin enamel can chip off resulting in a gum recession cascade. Holding the teeth in place are the jaw, cheek tissue and gum tissue. Without the gum tissue the gums will recede faster.
Yes, yes, orthodontics can also lead to gum recession. This is shocking right? Well, before you freak out and get rid of your braces, this only happens when they are not installed correctly.
When your teeth during the correction and restoration process are moved towards the cheeks or lips, they can leave what is known as the boney envelope. When this forms, the roots of your teeth are revealed. Studies conducted show that individuals with teeth angled towards the cheeks or lips have a higher chance of developing severe gingival recession.
f. Oral Piercing
Body piercings are considered to be the 21st century’s way of expressing oneself. I don’t know what the piercings say that one cannot speak out loud or use gestures to communicate, but oh well, that’s just me. I think it’s too much pain to say, ‘hey look at me, I’m cool, trendy and daring.’
And there’s a downside to these body piercing – especially those on the lip and tongue. They can cause damage to the soft and hard tissues in the mouth. These tissues include the gums and teeth. Most often than not, the placement of these piercings is done by non-professionals who are unaware of the oral effects it has.
Studies conducted reveal that both lip and tongue piercings cause gum recession and tooth abrasion after six months of use – if you have to get an oral piercing, ensure you consult with your dentist to help assess the risks.
People with a history of receding gums in their family should be extra cautious as they are at a higher risk of developing gum disease. If you are one of such, you should be careful and schedule regular dental checkups.
Signs Of Gum Recession
It is true that gum recession is a problem prevalent in adults aged 40 and above. However, the signs might start showing in the teenage years. Below are some to be on the lookout for.
1. Sensitive Teeth
The buildup of tartar and plaque can lead to gum recession. Heck it might even lead to the destruction of the bony support of your teeth. Pockets forming in your gum and around the teeth make it extremely difficult to clean which worsens the situation. If your teeth are growing more sensitive by the day, it is time to have your dentist have a look at them.
2. Tender Gums
Periodontal disease in its early stages is not painful. The signs are not major and it can go unnoticed. However, if not treated, these mild symptoms may grow into a serious problem – periodontitis. Some of the early signs of periodontal disease include bleeding gums, purple or red swollen gums, foul taste, persistent bad breath and tender gums.
3. Longer Teeth
When the gums recede as a result of periodontal disease the teeth appear to be longer than they really are. This condition not only ruins your smile, but also affects the health of your gums and teeth. The end result is gum irritation, sensitivity of the roots, bone loss and even tooth loss.
4. Exposed Roots
These can prove to be extremely uncomfortable and sensitive. Visible roots can be a symptom of the periodontal disease or can be a result of aggressive brushing or use of hard bristled toothbrushes. As earlier pointed out, you should only use soft bristled toothbrushes for your dental cleaning and hygiene.
5. Loss of Teeth
This is caused by the presence of bacteria under the gums and around the teeth or periodontal disease. As the condition worsens, the pockets between the gum and the teeth deepen causing a loss of structure and attachment. Gingivitis causing bacteria can lead to bone and gum destruction.
Stages Of Gum Recession
Gum recession is typically measured by the distance between the crown and the gum level. There are several stages of gum recession.
- Class I – this is mild gum recession. In this stage, there isn’t any bone or tissue loss.
- Class II – the gum recession extends its reach to the borders of the loose gingiva (it is still attached). Still, no bone or tissue loss
- Class III – Gum recession surpasses the border of the attached (though loose) gingiva. Some bone and tissue loss is evident. The root is partially covered.
- Class IV – There is severe gum recession. Bone loss and no root coverage
Note: Having mild gum disease and gum recession doesn’t mean you are in the clear. Even one millimeter of gum recession should be taken seriously as it could grow into deep pockets leaving you with little or no root coverage in no time.
Preventing Gum Recession
1. Keep You Gum Disease in Check
Treating the early sign and symptoms of gum disease including bleeding and sore gums will help keep control of the recession. Neglecting the health of your gums will pave way for periodontitis which quickly leads to stage IV of gum recession.
Your best prevention plan is to maintain excellent oral hygiene. Brush floss and rinse correctly and after a meal. Use oral hygiene products to kill bacteria in your gum.
2. Use Soft Bristled Toothbrushes
The leading cause of gum recession is vigorous and hard brushing, and the use of bard bristled toothbrushes. Hard bristles can also erode the enamel with time. Use a soft bristled brush and apply light pressure to your teeth and gums when cleaning. Forceful brushing will damage your teeth and cause your gums to pull away from the teeth.
3. Wear a Guard at Night to Prevent Grinding
If you are always waking up with sore jaws, or have teeth that are sharply worn out, you are probably clenching and grinding your teeth too much. Because of this, the teeth break and flex close to the gum margins. You might end up suffering gum recession as a side effect. To prevent this flexing and gum recession, be sure to wear a guard when sleeping.
4. Schedule Gum Checkups
You should regularly inspect your teeth and gums in front of the mirror. Your gums should be even and in line. If some teeth on opposite sides of the mouth are longer than others, then you probably are experiencing gum recessions. You should book an appointment with your dentist for consultations and treatment.
Treating Gum Recession
Mild gum recession can be treated by cleaning the affected region. Deep cleaning should do the trick. During this process, tartar and plaque that has built up over time on the root surfaces and the teeth are removed and the root smoothened to make it harder for bacteria attachment. Antibiotics are also administered to kill the bacteria that are missed during the process.
But if your gum recession includes excessive bone loss and deep pockets, deep cleaning will not do the trick. For this stage of gum recession, surgery is required. Below are some surgeries typically undertaken:
- Open flap scaling and root planning – in this procedure, the gum tissue is folded back, and harmful bacteria are removed from under it. It is then securely replaced over tooth root. The surgery gets rid of pockets and their general size.
- Regeneration – If the bone supporting the teeth is destroyed, then a regeneration surgery is recommended to reclaim the tissue and bone. As in the surgery explained above, the gum tissue will be folded back and cleaned. Regenerative matter including graft tissue and membranes will be introduced to encourage bone and tissue regeneration. Once the regenerative material is in place, the gum is replaced over the tooth root.
- Soft Tissue Graft – the most common graft procedure is the connective tissue graft. In this procedure, some skin is cut from the palate and stitched to the gum tissue. The stitched graft tissue is used to cover the exposed root.
Need an all-natural treatment for your gums…why not give L’orpur Throat & Gum Spray a try…it’s an all-natural highly effective spray to support mouth and gum health.
What Are The Best Essential Oils For Receding Gums
While brushing and flossing are essential, at times, they are just not enough, especially when gum recession has already started. To ramp up your oral hygiene, throw in some essential oils. You will be surprised at how much good they do you. And if you are after recipes to deal with tooth pain, you can simply access them here.
1. Neem Oil
The twigs, leaves, and seeds of the neem tree are known for their antifungal and antibacterial properties. In India, twigs were used as toothbrushes not so long ago. In addition to being great for your oral hygiene, neem EO helps with ulcers, infections, heart and skin diseases.
This EO inhibits the growth of a common bacterium known as Streptococcus mutans. This bacterium is the leading cause of gum disease. It is bitter and much like coconut oil, it solidifies at room temperature. However, running some hot water over its container will melt it.
2. Cinnamon Essential Oil
Cinnamon is not only great when used in food. It is also perfect for dental hygiene. As a matter of fact, it is used as an ingredient in lots of dental products. It has antibacterial properties which help to protect the enamel and kill bacteria. Cinnamon EO proved to be deadly against 10 species of bacteria causing gum disease. These bacteria include Lactobacillus plantarum and Streptococcus mutans.
3. Peppermint Essential Oil
This is the most popular EO used for dental hygiene. The market is full of peppermint flavored mouthwash, toothpaste and floss. As such, it is no surprise that peppermint EO is superior against oral bacteria. Peppermint has an active ingredient – menthol, which is a potent antimicrobial agent. If this EO proves to be too strong for you, try spearmint oil.
4. Myrrh Essential Oil
Myrrh is a sap extracted from the Commiphoramyrrha tree native to the Middle East and Africa. It is known as a spice and for its healing properties. It contains sesquiterpenes and terpenoids which possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Because of these properties, it can be used to treat gum recession, gum inflammation and mouth ulcers.
5. Tea Tree Essential Oil
I was also not surprised that this essential oil is used for oral health as well. It is excellent in warding off infections and keeping bacteria at bay. Tea tree EO is particularly helpful with receding gums. Like Myrrh essential oil, it contains terpenoids which get rid of the most robust oral bacteria. It is a perfect choice for serious gum recession cases.
6 Essential Oil Recipes For Receding Gums
Recipe 1: Oil Pulling EO Blend
What you need:
- Organic sesame oil – 2 oz (60ml)
- Amber glass bottle – 8 oz
- Yarrow EO – 8 drops
- Sage EO – 10 drops
- Clove EO – 5 drops
- Lemon EO – 2 drops
- Tea Tree EO – 1 drop
Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic dental care technique with its roots in Indian medicine. It has recently become the talk of the town. Many people are trying it out and are having great success. It is particularly helpful in healing cavities, teeth whitening, and gum recession.
Measure the sesame oil and pour it into the glass bottle using the funnel. Add the EO dropwise and screw the lid on tightly ready for a nice shake to mix the ingredients. Every morning before having breakfast, take 2 tablespoons and swish around your mouth. Direct the mixture through the teeth spaces and around your gum and tongue. Do this daily for about 15 minutes.
Recipe 2: DIY EO Toothpaste
What you need:
- Coconut oil – ¼ cup
- Baking soda – ½ cup
- Clove EO – 20 drops
- Yarrow EO – 10 drops
- Frankincense EO – 5 drops
- Lemon oil – 2 drops
- Activated charcoal – 2 teaspoons
Most conventional toothpastes have harsh chemicals, foaming agents and synthetic fragrances. These can aggravate the gums. When suffering from receding gums, you need to stay away from these toothpastes. Instead, whip up the above EO toothpaste.
Add the ingredients to a glass jar and mix thoroughly. Scoop some paste and use as toothpaste. Brush normally and rinse several times. You should note that this paste does not foam and as such may need some getting used to.
Recipe 3: Gum Stimulating EO Mouth Wash
What you need:
- Apple cider vinegar – ½ cup
- Distilled water – 1 cup
- Pink Himalayan Salt – 2 tablespoons
- Manuka honey – 1 tablespoon
- Peppermint EO – 10 drops
- Frankincense EO – 8 drops
- Clove EO – 5 drops
- Sage EO – 5 drops
- Glass bottle – 16 Oz
You already have made your own toothpaste. What are you waiting for, make your mouthwash as well. This is easy to make.
Simply add the apple cider vinegar to into a bottle of distilled water. Pour in your Manuka honey and Himalayan salt. Now add the EOs dropwise. Close the bottle cap and shake the mixture for a thorough mix.
Like with all other mouthwashes, you should exercise caution not to swallow it.
Recipe 4: Mint and Honey Mouthwash for Receding Gums
What you need:
- Water – 1 cup
- Raw honey – 1 tablespoon
- Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon
- Peppermint EO – 2 drops
- Spearmint EO – 2 drops
- Anise Seed oil – 1 drop
Spearmint and mint are a powerful combination. They each are potent individually and as such, you can only imagine how much power they possess when mixed together. They have great antioxidant properties. The honey used will not cause cavities. Honey is a complex sugar and as such, it is broken down slower in comparison to table sugar.
Mix the ingredients together and mix thoroughly. You can use the resulting mouthwash solution on a daily basis if you so please.
Recipe 5: Natural EO Treatment for Receding Gums
What you need:
- 4 tsp Baking soda
- 4 tsp White clay
- 1 tsp Sea salt
- 10 drops Clove oil
- 2 tsp Powdered charcoal
- 15 drops Peppermint EO
These ingredients may sound off and feel as though they do not go well together, but they do. They are useful in cleaning teeth. With this blend, you should aim for an okay taste, do not go all crazy lest you will run back to the chemical-laden toothpaste.
Mix the ingredients thoroughly and use the resulting paste like regular toothpaste.
Recipe 6: Natural EO Toothpaste
What you need:
- Baking soda – 6 tablespoons
- Coconut oil – 6 tablespoons
- Stevia – to taste
- Eucalyptus EO – 5 drops
- Clove EO – 5 drops
You can replace the Clove and Eucalyptus EO for whichever combination of EO you prefer (Neem, Cinnamon, etc.) Each EO provides a lot more than just taste. They have individual benefits against gum recession. Combined they are a force to reckon with. Ensure you purchase the Essential oils from a reputable source for best results.
Prevention is better than cure. You should work heaven and earth to ensure that you do not develop receding gums. But in the event you do, you should make haste and deal with it soonest. If left untreated, receding gums could very well transform into a severe condition and damage your bright and warm smile forever. And we wouldn’t want that mow, would we? Nope.