Gum Recession – New Territory for Cavities

Gum Recession

In a healthy mouth, the gums fit snugly against the tooth enamel, allowing very little access to the root surfaces below. The roots are thus protected from bacterial plaque and potential decay. When the gums recede, due to poor dental care, oral piercings, abrasion of the gums with overly vigorous tooth brushing, or simply age, the root surfaces are exposed. This is an especially dangerous time for your teeth!

The root surface is primarily made out of dentin. Compared to enamel, dentin has significantly less mineral content (chiefly calcium and phosphorus) and is far more porous. While approximately half the root is made out of minerals, the other half is formed from collagen. This fibrous tissue offers little defense against acids, so as dentin is rapidly demineralized by acids from our foods, drinks and oral bacteria, the collagen is destroyed too. This breakdown of minerals and destruction of collagen leads to root caries.

The best cure for root caries is prevention! Avoiding gum recession is essential. Regular oral hygiene is key. Visiting the Sacramento Dentistry Group at the first sign of root exposure is ideal.

Remineralization of the root surface will occur and some regrowth of dentin is possible. Both are encouraged with the use of fluoride, applied topically by our dentists to the exposure site or with rinses, gels and toothpastes at home. When brushing your teeth, remember to use only soft toothbrushes so you don’t further degrade your gums or exposed roots!

Where remineralization is no longer possible, shallow lesions can be filled, much like caries in the enamel. Deeper cavities in the root may require root canal therapy or even extraction. The best way to avoid this worst-case scenario is to avoid gum recession. If your gums have receded already, modifying your diet to avoid highly acidic substances, like sodas and sweet teas, while practicing regular oral hygiene is essential. Otherwise, we may end up discussing dental implant therapy!

  • Myra
    Posted at 13:25h, 12 July Reply

    I heard that some gum recession is a natural part of aging, is this true?

  • Jessica (@squareduptweets)
    Posted at 19:00h, 31 July Reply

    Back in the days of Victorian novels, the way to describe a woman that was no longer a spring chicken was to say she was “long in the tooth.” But as we know, teeth don’t get longer, it’s the gums that are getting shorter, by receding. Long legs I want, not longer teeth.

Leave a Reply to Jessica (@squareduptweets) Cancel reply