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Gum Recession, Periodontal Disease and Abfraction

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Gum Recession, Periodontal Disease and Abfraction

Are your teeth becoming more sensitive to temperature and sweets? Do you notice more food getting caught between your teeth?  You could be experiencing gum recession and a more serious consequence that is called, “ abfraction.”  Once the gum tissue is gone, it cannot grow back.  The only way to get it back is with surgical intervention with a grafting technique.

Gum tissue is actually somewhat delicate and it reacts to your overall health.  There are many reasons why your gums may start to recede.  A common way gum recession can occur is using the wrong type of toothbrush or brushing too aggressively.  Using a hard bristle brush can basically brush your gums away. A soft bristle toothbrush angled at 45 degrees to the tissue in small circles is the correct way to brush. Using an electric toothbrush can do the work for you so you do not brush too aggressively or at the wrong angle.   

Genetics can also play a role in gum recession and ultimately, periodontal disease.  Despite even perfect oral hygiene, some people can develop gum recession due to family history. Up to 30% of the population may be predisposed to gum issues due to genetics.  If you know other family members have struggled with gum disease, let your dentist know.

Gingivitis or periodontitis can cause the tissue to recede as well.  Bacteria accumulate on the teeth, and the gums react with an inflammatory response.  This bacterial gum infection destroys the tissue and will ultimately cause bone loss around the teeth, which is called periodontal disease.  Spaces occur between the teeth where more food and bacteria can get trapped.  Thus, there is constant need to keep up with daily oral hygiene including brushing at least twice per day and flossing at least one time per day, as well as getting professional cleanings several times per year.  Depending on your case your dentist and hygienist may recommend periodontal treatment including scaling and root planning to remove deposits and infection under the gums.

Gum recession can lead to other dental issues including periodontal disease, which if left untreated, will result in tooth loss.  Another issue that can occur is called abfraction.  Abfraction is the damage of the root surface itself along the gumline.

It is a notched out or a ledging of the root due to gum recession coupled with clenching and grinding.  Long-term stress on the teeth causes micro fractures of the root surface to break off resulting in the notched out area of the root surface.  Sometimes there will be sensitivity, but many times there is no pain.  Treatment for abfraction involves placing fillings over the area to protect it from decay and possible sensitivity.  Also, breaking the bruxing habit as well as possibly wearing a night guard can stop the progression of root surface damage.  Sometimes abfraction occurs due to misaligned teeth and orthodontics is recommended to alleviate the progression.

Gum recession is the start of some concerning dental issues and should be taken seriously.  If your teeth are becoming sensitive, be sure to mention it at your next dental visit.  Your dental hygienist and your dentist at Martin Dentistry will be able to recommend treatment if necessary.   In the meantime, make sure you are doing your part at home with excellent oral hygiene habits.

* All information subject to change. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.