By Shelly Fesler, RDH, BSDH
Receding gums occur gradually and can easily go unnoticed. This question from Dewa from Nigeria is something that others have wondered about.
I have only been to a dentist once in my life and I just washed my teeth and filled a tooth.
He said my dentition was pretty good considering, but he also mentioned in passing that I have receding gums.
I did not take its as anything serious, but recently my teeth have become sensitive and I feel as if food particles are stuck between my teeth even when there is nothing there so I keep picking at my teeth.
What does this mean?
Hi Dewa, Thanks for your question. Receding gum line happens so gradually and does not always require treatment so I'm not surprised that your dentist only casually mentioned it.
Now that you are having some problems, you should learn more about this condition.
When your gums recede, your root surfaces become exposed. Because root surfaces are not covered in enamel, they are more sensitive to cold or touch.
Use fluoride rinse or gel every night to help mineralize these exposed roots. Using extra fluoride will also keep your roots from getting cavities. since they are not as hard as enamel, root surfaces are more prone to tooth decay.
You can use an over the counter fluoride rinse like ACT Mouthwash, or a prescription strength fluoride gel like Colgate Prevident.
Fluoride won't give you instant relief from the sensitivity but over time, you will see it improve.
Because root surfaces are not as smooth as enamel, the new rougher texture may feel like food stuck to your teeth.
Another problem that can occur along with receding gumline is abfraction. Abfractions are small grooves or notches near the gum line. These would feel very different to your tongue as well.
Many abfractions can be fixed with a tooth colored filling. Ask your dentist if this is a good option for you.
Most importantly, you need to find out why your gums are receding and do what you can to stop your receding gums from progressing. Your dentist can advise you on this.
Last but not least, you should see your dentist to be sure you don't have teeth with cavities or other problem causing your sensitivity.
There's more about receding gums here.
Thank you for writing and good luck,
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