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What to Do About a Receding Gum Line

Receding gums are a common problem, especially for older adults.3 When the gums pull away from the teeth, your teeth may appear too long. Besides affecting your smile, receding gums may expose the roots of your teeth. This can make your teeth sensitive to hot, cold, sticky or acidic foods. For example, drinking coffee or eating ice cream can become uncomfortable.6,7

Keeping Gums Healthy

To prevent receding gums:

  • Don’t overbrush.6 Dental health experts suggest brushing gently twice a day with a soft bristled toothbrush, paying special attention to the gum line. Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles get frayed.1, 5 An electric toothbrush is also an efficient way to control dental plaque.

  • Floss at least once a day to remove food and bacterial plaque from areas between the teeth and just under the gum line.5

  • See your dentist regularly. Tell your dentist if you notice your gums receding or your teeth becoming more sensitive.1,4 He or she may suggest using a toothpaste which has been especially formulated for sensitive teeth. These toothpastes help make nerves less sensitive to temperature and sticky and acidic foods.6

Managing Problem Gums

There are ways to fix receding gums. One method is a soft tissue graft. A gum health expert ( a periodontist) can perform a soft tissue graft. He or she will remove gum tissue from your palate, or the roof of your mouth. Then, the periodontist will use that tissue to cover the exposed root.1,2,7

Besides helping control sensitive teeth, this procedure can help protect roots from tooth decay. It can also improve the look of your smile and fix an uneven gum line.2, 7

If you have receding gums, your periodontist may also suggest other ways to cover your roots such as sealing your sensitive teeth by bonding a plastic agent to their roots.1,6

1 “Frequently Asked General Periodontal Questions.” American Academy of Periodontology. Accessed 2009.

2 “Frequently Asked Questions About Treatment of Periodontal (Gum) Disease.” American Academy of Periodontology. Accessed 2009.

3 “How to Keep a Healthy Smile for Life.” American Academy of Periodontology. Accessed 2009.

4 “Oral Health and Bone Health.” National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease, National Institutes of Health, May 2009. Accessed 2009.

5 “Oral Health Topics A-Z. Cleaning Your Teeth and Gums (Oral Hygiene).” American Dental Association. Accessed 2009.

6 “Oral Health Topics A-Z. Sensitive Teeth.” American Dental Association. Accessed 2009.

7 “Soft Tissue Grafts.” American Academy of Periodontology. Accessed 2009.

Author: Ramos, Laura
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