April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. While oral cancer isn’t a topic that most people…
Getting older isn’t usually on anybody’s list of favorite things, but it sure beats the alternative. There are definitely some good things about getting older: You have more experience, security, wisdom, and so on. On the other hand, getting older also carries with it new and increased health concerns that affect every part of the body, including teeth and gums. In fact, gum problems are a topic that we hear about a lot at your Overland Park dentist’s office.
While we do see gum issues in younger patients, receding gums are most common in the older crowd. Formally known as “gingival recession,” receding gums affect 71% of adults over the age of 50 and 90% of adults over the age of 80. Some degree of gum recession is to be expected and is probably inevitable as we get older. But what does it mean, why does it happen, and what can we do to lessen our risk? These are the questions we hear all the time, and we’ve got answers!
Gum recession happens when the tissue of the gums begins to pull away from the root of your teeth. Your teeth are protected by a very hard layer of enamel, but that layer is thinner where the teeth would normally be covered by the gums. This means that as your gums recede, your teeth are at greater risk for increased sensitivity, cavities, and other problems. Plus, receding gums form handy “pockets” that are hard to reach as part of your regular oral care regimen, and they’re a perfect place for bacteria to hide out.
While our risk of experiencing receding gums goes up as we age, there are plenty of other factors that can exacerbate or even cause gum recession. Gum disease is the most common culprit, but other factors include diet, lifestyle choices, inadequate brushing or flossing, and not getting regular cleanings from your Overland Park dentist. Even brushing too hard can irritate the gums and increase your risk of gum recession. Remember that the key to good brushing is not force but consistency and thoroughness.
So what can you do to help reduce your risk of experiencing problematic gum recession? The good news is that the same answers that help you have a bright, healthy smile your whole life long will also help you mitigate or prevent the effects of receding gums. Regardless of your age, the best thing you can do for your oral health is to practice good hygiene – including brushing twice a day and flossing at least once per day – eat a healthy diet, and make regular visits to see your family dentist.
Speaking of which, if you haven’t seen your Overland Park dentist in a while, call Watts Family Dental at (913) 338-3384 today to schedule an appointment or ask a member of our helpful staff any questions you might have about gum recession or any other oral health topics that are on your mind. We look forward to hearing from you!