Are You Getting Long In The Tooth – literally?

February 12th, 2015

Ock Street Clinic’s guide to Gum Recession

The term ‘Long in the Tooth’ arose historically to mean ‘old’, because older people were more likely to suffer gum recession, giving the illusion that their teeth were getting longer. For a few people, gum recession is due to factors out of their control; naturally thinner tissues around the teeth; having prominent tooth roots; or following previously completed orthodontic treatment. It can also be the result of gum trauma from overzealous brushing or even clenching and grinding the teeth, often subconsciously.

For a large number of us, gum recession is caused by the loss of supportive structures around the teeth, most commonly due to gum disease. If the recession is around the majority of your teeth it is likely to be associated with more advanced gum disease, known as periodontal disease. Often gum recession is actually worse after the gum disease has been treated. Periodontal treatment and improvement in oral hygiene can cause the gums to shrink back and tighten around the root surfaces during the healing process.

Some people may be more susceptible to gum disease and hence recession. In fact, studies show that up to 30% of the population may be predisposed to gum disease, regardless of how well they care for their teeth. Smokers are more likely to have difficult to remove, sticky plaque on their teeth, which can lead to gum recession. And people with crooked teeth or a misaligned bite are at risk: when teeth do not come together evenly, too much force can be placed on the gums and bone in one place, causing the gums to recede.

At Ock Street Clinic our periodontal programme includes access to our Specialist in Periodontics, Richard Snoad, who is very experienced in the treatment and management of gum disease whilst minimising gum recession. His treatment protocol is a much gentler technique than the traditionally more aggressive scaling approach. This can help to minimise the amount of recession that a person may suffer from after gum disease treatment.

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