Archive for General Dentistry

Your teething baby – Everything you need to know

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If you’ve just had a baby, then you might be wondering when their first teeth will come through. Don’t worry: this blog post will give you the lowdown.

When does teething start?

Most babies start teething around 6 months of age. All babies are different however. Some don’t start teething until after 12 months. Others are at the other extreme and start teething in their first few weeks. In rare cases, babies are even born with one or two teeth. These are called ‘natal’ teeth. If the natal tooth isn’t attached to a root, the paediatrician might want to remove it to prevent the baby from accidental swallowing it.

The order babies’ teeth appear in

Different teeth come through at different times. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Usually the bottom front teeth are the first to come through. These typically appear at around 6 months.
  • The next teeth to appear are usually the top front teeth, which come through at around 7 months.
  • The teeth on either side of the front teeth are next. These appear at around 10 months.
  • The back teeth come through at around 14 months.
  • The canines (the sharp-looking teeth) appear at around 19 months.
  • Finally, the second molars (the teeth right at the back of the mouth) come through at around 2 years.

Most young children will have all their teeth at around 2.5 years of age.

Symptoms of teething

Teething sometimes causes symptoms such as:

  • Chewing on things a lot
  • Dribbling
  • Flushed cheeks, or just one flushed cheek
  • Sore gums
  • Fretful behaviour, such as crying

See your GP if your baby has any symptoms that concern you.

How to soothe your teething baby

Teething can sometimes cause discomfort and even mild pain for babies. This is usually normal, but there are some things you can do to help your baby.

Sometimes babies chew objects to ease their discomfort. Common items are toys, clothes, and even their own fingers! A safer alternative is teething rings. These rings are made of plastic or wood and are usually large enough to prevent your baby from swallowing them. Some teething rings can be put in the fridge before use – the coldness will help to soothe your baby’s mouth.

Another way to sooth a teething baby is with teething gels. These gels contain a mild anaesthetic that numb the pain around the erupting tooth. These gels can be used safely on babies aged more than four months. Speak to your GP however before using gels on babies younger than four months. Also, never use adult pain relief gel on babies; always use a teething gel that’s made specifically for young children.

If your baby is over six months old then you can give them food to chew on, such as pieces of bread, carrot, or apple. However, never leave your baby alone with food in case they choke.

Register with a dentist

Don’t forget to register your baby with a dentist when their first teeth come through. We like to think we’re a good choice, so don’t be shy and contact us today!

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How to take care of your childrens teeth

Girl in dentists chair toothbrushing a model

Some parents wonder whether it’s worth taking care of their children’s first teeth because the adult teeth will replace them anyway. But good oral hygiene in childhood is a cornerstone of healthy teeth in adulthood, especially now when it’s coming up to Christmas. So from brushing to sugar to dentist visits, this post will show you how to take care of your children’s teeth.

Brushing

The foundation of any oral hygiene routine is brushing, and children are no exception to this. You should begin to brush your children’s teeth as soon as their first teeth appear, which is typically around the age of four to seven months.

Some dentists recommend parents to brush their babies’ teeth with water because babies tend to swallow toothpaste and the fluoride can be harmful. However, we do recommend fluoride toothpaste because it’s better at protecting teeth. One compromise is children’s toothpaste, which has less fluoride than adult toothpaste. If you do go down this route, ensure the toothpaste actually contains enough fluoride to do its job: at least 1,000ppm fluoride is needed. You should also use toothpaste sparingly on young children. Children under the age of seven shouldn’t be brushing with more than a pea-sized blob.

Some children dislike brushing their teeth, and this is entirely normal. However, it’s still important that children do brush their teeth. You can encourage them by brushing your teeth at the same time as them. Also, flavoured toothpaste can make brushing more enjoyable for children.

Seeing a dentist

It’s a good idea to take your child to the dentist as soon as their baby teeth have started appearing. This is because the dentist can check to ensure that the teeth are erupting normally, and they will also check your baby’s mouth for any sign of other problems. Another advantage of early dental visits is it helps your child get used to going to the dentist. Unfortunately, many children are apprehensive about dental appointments, and this fear can continue into adulthood and cause poor dental health. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get your child used to the dentist by taking your child at an early age.

Sugar

It’s a fact that kids love sugar. Unfortunately though, plaque loves sugar just as much as kids do! It doesn’t help that sugar is found in so many foods these days. One way to manage your kids’ sugar intake is to read the back of food packets. This will allow you to determine how much sugar is in each food. Snacks such as dried fruit, cereal bars, fruit juice, and fruit rolls are among the worst culprits for sugar. You might think that dried fruit would be healthy, but it’s actually one of the worst snacks you can give to a child. That’s because it contains around 60 g of sugar per 100 g of fruit, and it also gets stuck between teeth easily where it can stay for hours. For healthier snacks, try popcorn, cheese, peanut butter, milk, or sliced apple, and keep the sugar just to special occasions.

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Who exactly is the Tooth Fairy?

Who is the tooth fairy?After Father Christmas is finished making toys at the North Pole, he’ll no doubt be sipping cocktails in Barbados along with the Easter Bunny. So have pity for the poor Tooth Fairy, who has to work all year round without a single day off. That’s real job dedication for you.

Not only does the tooth fairy have an amazing work ethic, but she’s generous too. Thanks to a survey this year, we know that tooth fairy payments have increased by a whopping 40% in the last five years alone. (Or perhaps this is just a sign that the British economy is finally recovering.)

The survey also revealed that the average payment the tooth fairy leaves for a tooth is £2.10. This average varies geographically though. The tooth fairy is the most generous in London, where she leaves £2.50 per tooth, and the stingiest in Newcastle, where she only leaves £1 on average.

So where did the tooth fairy come from?

References to the tooth fairy date as far back as 1908, when a newspaper article at the time said, “If a boy takes his little tooth and puts it under the pillow when he goes to bed, the tooth fairy will come in the night and take it away, and in its place will leave some little gift.” The article goes on to suggest that this ‘little gift’ can be a few pennies. If only our children would be happy with just a few pennies today!

And before this, French children left out their teeth in exchange for money. But it wasn’t a fairy that took their teeth – it’s was mouse instead. The idea was that by letting a mouse take the teeth, the child’s new teeth would be as a strong as mouse’s. At the beginning of the 20h century, Americans crossed the French mouse myth with a Disney-style fairy, and voila – the modern-day tooth fairy was born. So we have the Americans to thank for the modern tooth fairy. Though let’s not be too ready with our praise, because they did also make the horrendous film “Tooth Fairy” with Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson as the titular fairy.

What’s the purpose of the tooth fairy?

Losing a tooth can be a scary experience for a small child, so the tooth fairy is a way to turn a scary experience into an exciting one. After all, who wouldn’t want to wake up with money under their pillow?

And money doesn’t have to be the only thing the tooth fairy leaves – she can also leave a letter as well. A hand-written note from the fairy can certainly make the event more personal to your child. It can also be a chance for the tooth fairy to stress the importance of good dental hygiene. After all, the tooth fairy can sometimes be a stronger influence on children than parents! A letter can also help the tooth fairy discourage children from spending all her money on sweets…

So let’s hear it for the tooth fairy, unsung hero of the dental world. And maybe if we all keep our teeth really clean, she’ll be able to afford a bit of time off to join Father Christmas in the Barbados.

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Finding Floss Fiddly? Try Interdental Brushes

Daily tooth brushing is an important part of maintaining good oral health. The bristles of a toothbrush are very effective at cleaning accessible areas of the teeth but do not reach interdentally to clean the surfaces where two teeth meet. Dental floss is a common solution and has existed in a similar form for over 200 years when dentists first began recommending silk thread for cleaning between teeth. Some patients are very comfortable using floss but others find it time consuming and somewhat awkward to handle. A 2015 US national survey found that 18% of participants said they would prefer washing a sink full of dishes than flossing their teeth daily. The value of interdental cleaning is still important, so those who feel they can relate to this opinion may be pleasantly surprised by interdental brushes’ ease of use.

Why should I clean interdentally?

Preventing a condition is always preferable to treating it. Dental caries, or tooth decay, is caused by acid from plaque bacteria living on the tooth surface dissolving the tooth’s hard structure. The point of contact of two teeth is a common place for decay to begin because it is not so well cleaned by regular tooth brushing alone, leaving the plaque bacteria behind.

Gingivitis is the technical term for inflamed gums. Gums can become irritated from products released by bacteria living on the nearby teeth. Reducing bacterial numbers by cleaning between the teeth can prevent the onset of gingivitis. Gingivitis may also progress to periodontitis when the bacteria are allowed to mature. Their products then begin to irritate deeper than the gums and onto the tooth’s bone support. Periodontitis is in fact the most common cause of tooth loss in adults.

What are interdental brushes?

Interdental brushes are small brushes that are able to fit between the teeth. As the brush is gently pushed through the space, a correctly sized brush will fill the space to give a superior clean to a thin piece of floss.

Many styles of interdental brushes are available. Some are held between the thumb and forefingers, others have longer handles and right angle heads if the user prefers. The spacing between our teeth varies around our mouths so the size of the bristle heads is important. The largest size that passes through a space comfortably will provide the most effective clean by brushing against the sides.

interdental-brush

How do I use interdental brushes?

The use of interdental brushes before or after tooth brushing is open to debate, but as each instrument cleans a different part of the tooth you will see the benefits whichever you favour. Some patients only use interdental brushes as a tool when they have food trapped, but interdental brushing should form part of a daily oral hygiene regime.

Find the size of the interdental brush that fits snugly through the tooth gap and hold it comfortably in your hand.

Enter the brush between the teeth, starting in a logical sequence not to leave any tooth spaces out.

Rinse the brush between insertions as to avoid transferring debris between teeth. You will also see on the bristles what was once being left behind on the teeth after tooth brushing.

Most brands of interdental brushes are reusable so just like a regular toothbrush, keep it on the side and replace it when the bristles begin appearing worn.

Even if using interdental brushes gently and correctly sized, you may still experience some discomfort and/or bleeding when you first begin their use. This can be a sign of sore gums (gingivitis) and you will be benefiting greatly from continuing with the routine. Gingivitis is reversible so once the teeth have had fewer bacteria for several days, the symptoms of inflammation will begin to disappear. If you do remain concerned, please speak with your dentist.

TePe is one of the many interdental brush brands available here in the UK that we as dentists would recommend. Their short YouTube video however gives some insight into the general use of interdental brushes.

If you have any further questions, your dentist or hygienist will be happy to help.

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Taking Care of Dentures

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There are lot of denture cleaners on the market, ranging from pastes and creams to solutions and tablets. The consensus is that provided you are following a cleaning regime that works for you and cleanses the dentures appropriately it doesn’t matter which products you rely on. However, here is some advice frequently given to denture wearers on how to successfully care for their dentures.

  • Take your denture out at night and leave it in a glass of water after following your preferred cleaning regime. If the dentures are left in the mouth overnight, bacteria and fungus may become trapped under the denture and the saliva won’t have an opportunity to clean the mouth. Leaving the dentures in water prevents any warping of the material.
  • When you take your denture out at night, brush your teeth as normal and then brush the denture with a soft toothbrush or denture brush. Use either soap and warm water or a special denture toothpaste. Never use regular toothpaste on your denture as it contains abrasives that may damage the material.
  • Place a hand towel either in the sink or on the surface you use to clean your denture as they can easily break if dropped.
  • Steradent make a range of effervescent denture cleaning solutions. Dentists generally recommend using these solutions according to the instructions a couple of times a week to help remove stains and dirt.
  • Fixatives can be used to help keep a denture in place but should be removed thoroughly from the denture and mouth at night. Brushing the denture and gums with a soft toothbrush and warm water should be adequate.
  • If your dentist suspects you have a fungal overgrowth on your denture, usually caused by the fungus Candida albicans, they might recommend leaving your denture in a sodium hypochlorite solution (like Milton or Dentural) for 20 minutes.
  • If your denture has a special soft lining or a metal base then use a cleaning regime recommended by your dentist as some products, particularly effervescent solutions, may cause damage.
  • If your denture is still dirty after following the recommended cleaning regimes, your dentist will be able to clean it for you with specialist tools. Mention this to your dentist next time you go.
  • If your denture causes you any pain, make an emergency appointment at the dentist to have it adjusted. Most adjustments can be made chairside by the dentist, but in some cases the denture may need to be returned to the laboratory for a short period of time.
  • Never try and adjust your denture yourself. If you have any problems with the denture make an emergency appointment at your dentist.
  • It is still important to visit a dentist, even if you have no teeth, as oral diseases such as bacterial and fungal infections can still affect the soft tissues of the mouth. It is also important to visit a dentist so they can complete the recommended cancer screening that every patient receives during their check up.
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5 ways to take better care of your teeth

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Taking good care of your teeth is important to remove plaque and to reduce the long-term risk of gum disease and tooth decay. Yet despite this, many people only use a regular toothbrush and toothpaste to clean their teeth, even though there are several other additional ways you can use to ensure your teeth stay healthy.

Floss

Dentists recommend that everyone should floss, because it removes plaque and food from between your teeth where your toothbrush simply can’t reach. In fact, you should floss every night before brushing, and you may also need to floss during the day if food gets regularly stuck in your teeth. If you’ve never flossed before, then you should expect some minor gum bleeding when you first start, while your gums get used to the abrasion. Remember to pay special attention to the teeth at the back of your mouth, because these are the teeth hardest to reach, and therefore usually the most neglected.

Mouthwash

Mouthwash is not just for keeping your breath fresh – it can also reduce plaque and gum disease. But don’t make the common mistake of rinsing your mouth with water afterwards, because this will reduce the effectiveness of the mouthwash. Also, be careful when giving mouthwash to young children, because if they are not properly shown how to use it, they may accidentally swallow the rinse.

Electric toothbrush

You may think an electric toothbrush is an unnecessary expense, but they are actually better at removing plaque than regular toothbrushes. Try to buy one with oscillating heads (these are heads that rotate in opposite directions) as this is the most effective type of electric toothbrush.

Brushing properly

Even if you’re brushing your teeth the recommended minimum of two times a day, your efforts could still be going to waste if you’re not brushing them properly. For example, you may be neglecting to brush certain areas well enough, leading to plaque build-up in these areas. If you think this may be the case, then you can buy plaque disclosing tablets, which will help reveal any trouble spots. These tablets will dye any plaque left over after brushing and thereby highlight any areas you missed. But also, keep in mind that you shouldn’t brush with too much force, as this can prematurely wear down the enamel protecting your teeth. If your teeth are sensitive in particular areas, then this could be a sign you’re brushing too hard. Instead, use small circular movements rather than large heavy movements. You can even ask your dentist to watch you brushing your teeth, and they can then advise you on your technique.

Get a regular check-up

Finally, you should see a dentist regularly, because problems are much easier to solve if they’re caught early. The NHS recommends that adults go for a check-up at least every two years, though you will probably need to go more frequently if you have existing problems. Children, on the other hand, should see the dentist at least once a year.

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Caution with Paracetamol in Dentistry

As it can be so uncomfortable, dental pain often requires over-the-counter analgesics. Paracetamol is regularly a drug of choice: it is cheap, readily available and comes with minimal side effects. Despite being such a common and easily purchasable drug, accidental paracetamol overdose remains one of the highest causes of both acute liver failure and liver transplants in the UK.

Through a similar mechanism to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin and ibuprofen, paracetamol can relieve the symptoms of pain, fever and headaches. Though its route of action is less well understood than regular NSAIDs, it is accepted that paracetamol is able to inhibit pathways in the body that lead to the release of prostaglandins, the chemical attributed to these symptoms.

Tooth ache is inflammatory in nature. The anti-inflammatory effect of paracetamol is not as potent as NSAIDs but comes with a lower incidence of gastro-intestinal bleeding, nausea and blood thinning. Despite this, it seems to work just as well as NSAIDs in treating inflammatory tooth ache, possibly due to the effect it has on the central nervous system (1).

Once taken into the body, paracetamol is mostly metabolised by the liver. Initially it is conjugated with glucuronic acid to allow it to be excreted by the kidneys but this pathway is limited and can be exhausted by as little as 8 tablets of paracetamol (1). The remaining drug is converted into a toxic by-product that quickly reacts with a molecule called glutathione so the two can be excreted harmlessly in the urine (2). However, once this final mechanism of protection is used up, the toxic by-product begins to damage the cells of the liver.

Symptoms of paracetamol toxicity varies according to the time of presentation. Early presentation may often include nausea and vomiting; late presentation can show signs of jaundice, impaired consciousness and haemorrhage (2). The toxicity can be treated with acetyl-cysteine, which acts as a paracetamol antidote, but many people still die from paracetamol overdose due to late presentation (2). While incidence of accidental overdose is lower than non-accidental overdose, its mortality rate is often higher due to a decreased awareness about long-term damage and a later presentation in hospital (3).

Some people are more at risk of paracetamol toxicity than others; additional drugs being taken, such as anti-TB medication, and a number of conditions (particularly those damaging to the liver like hepatitis C) can all increase the risk. However, the two most dangerous risk factors in the average patient are often the belief that an over-the-counter drug is relatively harmless and how easy an overdose can be when paracetamol tablets are taken alongside paracetamol-containing medicaments like Lemsip, Night Nurse and Beechams.

The way forward with reducing the harm associated with paracetamol is through further patient education: a great number of people won’t read the precautions on drug instructions so the information needs to come from medical professionals (GPs and dentists) who see the patients taking these drugs and who often prescribe them. It is also the responsibility of professionals to identify the patients who are at a higher risk of paracetamol overdose due to their reliance on it for dental pain relief.

(1) Nayyer, N.V., Byers, J. and Marney, C. (2013) Identyfying adults at risk of paracetamol toxicity in the acute dental setting. BDJ. 216(5): 229-235
(2) Ferrer, R.E., Dear, J.W. and Bateman, N. (2011) Managing paracetamol overdose. BMJ. 342
(3) Craig, D.G., Bates, C.M., Davidson, J.S. et al (2011) Overdose pattern and outcome in paracetamol-induced acute severe hepatotoxicity. Br J Clin Pharmacol 71(2): 273-82

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Severe pain following a tooth extraction

Some degree of discomfort can be expected following a tooth extraction and this is often managed with the use of common analgesics, such as ibuprofen and paracetamol. However, sometimes when pain becomes particularly severe following an extraction, a condition called ‘dry socket’ can be suspected.

Dry Socket after tooth extraction

Dry Socket
 

Dry socket occurs when the bone from an extraction site becomes exposed to the oral environment. In most extraction sites a blood clot forms and protects the socket and promotes healing; this blood clot can be lost or broken down, compromising the health of the underlying bone. It is a relatively common complication of tooth extraction, with an incidence rate of anywhere between 0.5-30% depending on the nature of the extraction: non-surgical extractions can cause dry socket in approximately 1% of cases, where surgical extractions have been quoted to cause dry socket in up to 30% of cases.

Risk factors for dry socket

While dry socket can occur in any extraction site, there are some situations where there is a greater risk. These include:

  • Extraction sites near areas of infection
  • Smoking
  • Frequently rinsing the mouth or spitting after an extraction
  • Playing with the extraction site
  • Oral contraception
  • Having a wisdom tooth removed

As instructed by your dentist, following a tooth extraction you should keep the area as undisturbed as possible. Ceasing smoking, alcohol and heavy exercise around the time of a dental extraction is recommended. Using mouthwash or spitting for 48 hours after the extraction is advised against, but gentle salt-water rinses from 24 hours can help keep the area clean.

Symptoms of dry socket

  • Severe pain initiating 2-4 days after the extraction
  • Pain radiating to the ear or temple
  • A bad smell originating from the mouth
  • A bad taste
  • Visible bone in the extraction site

What to do if you think you have dry socket

If you suspect you are suffering from dry socket the most important thing to do is to make an emergency appointment with the dentist. The dentist will be able to clean the site and place a medicated dressing inside that can help ease the pain and promote healing. Other than taking analgesics, unfortunately there is very little else that can be done once dry socket has occurred and it can take between 10 and 40 days to fully heal. Regular trips to the dentist over that period for medicated dressing may be necessary and continued use of gentle warm salt rinses. Avoiding food that is likely to leave particles behind that can get caught in the extraction site is also a good idea.

If you suspect you have dry socket, contact Scott Arms Dental Practice now to arrange an appointment on 0121 357 5000

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The Power of Dairy

NHS choices recommend that roughly a 7th of our diet should be made up from milk and dairy foods. Mostly non-cariogenic (doesn’t cause cavities), dairy products are rich in calcium, vitamin A and B12 without containing the sugars best known for causing dental problems. You may have even heard that a little cheese after a meal can help protect against tooth decay.

A new study divided a sample of teenagers into four groups and tested the pH of their mouths after consuming cheese, milk, sugar-free yogurt and a control product. The study, published earlier this year, suggests that all non-sweetened dairy products make better snacks than carbohydrate or fruit-based ones purely due to their lack of usable sugars. When the bacteria in the mouth come into contact with usable sugars they metabolise them, producing tooth-damaging acid. Testing the pH of the mouth is a viable way to calculate the risk of decay; a pH below 5.5 is considered the pH at which decay can begin and the risk increases with a continual decrease in pH. Generally all foods lower the pH of the mouth, placing it in a ‘danger zone’ until the saliva can raise the pH back to a safe level. As dairy products don’t lower the pH of the mouth, consuming them in between meals doesn’t endanger the teeth.

Furthermore, the study showed that cheese not only didn’t lower the pH of the mouth but actually increased it. This is due to both the fact that chewing stimulates saliva (an alkali) and that compounds in the cheese can adhere to teeth, thereby protecting them against acid.

Especially with obesity on the rise, cheese should definitely be eaten in moderation. Some cheeses can be particularly high in sodium and fat so it is worth knowing which cheeses might be considered the healthier options.

While still containing high levels of protein, vitamin A and B12, cheeses like Emmental are good options for a low-salt choice. Processed cheese, while perhaps boasting a low-fat content, can be very high in salt so are best avoided. Ricotta and cottage cheese are both low in fat and great choices for a calorie-controlled diet.

See below for a fat and salt content comparison of a variety of different cheeses:

Cheese Type Fat content per 100g Salt content per 100g Calories per 100g
Parmigiano reggiano Hard 28.4g 0.65g 388kcal
Cheddar Hard 32g 0.72g 390kcal
Emmental Hard 29g 0.25g 373kcal
Mozzarella Semi-soft 20.5g 0.2g 263kcal
Brie Soft 32g 0.58g 356kcal
Stilton Semi-hard 35g 0.8g 410kcal
Gouda Semi-hard 31.2g 0.86g 376kcal
Feta Soft 23g 0.9g 276kcal
Taleggio Semi-soft 26g 0.8g 310kcal
Ricotta Fresh soft 12g 0.16g 154kcal
Cottage cheese Soft 6g 0.22g 111kcal
Cheddar ‘Light’ Hard ‘light’ 23g 0.66g 328kcal
Cheese String Processed 23g 2g 315kcal

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Receding Gums – Causes and Treatment

Gum recession is a hugely common problem with approximately 50% of the population showing signs of receding gums. This figure only increases with age yet few people are aware of what causes gum recession and how to avoid it.

The aetiology of gum recession is often multi-factorial, but the consequence is generally the same; gum pulling away from the natural margin of a tooth crown exposes the root, causing sensitivity, decay risk and often an unpleasant appearance.

periodontal treatment for receding gums

Receding Gums
 

Overzealous Tooth Brushing

Overzealous tooth brushing is often the culprit in localised recession (which affects only a few teeth). It is mostly the upper canines (pointed, fang-like teeth) that are affected in cases of aggressive brushing. Connecting the front teeth to the chewing teeth at the back though their angular positioning, canines are sometimes considered the ‘corners’ of the mouth and are consequently subject to increased pressure during tooth brushing. The thin layer of gum and bone overlying the bulbous root of the upper canines is easily worn away from continual rubbing, unable to regrow.

Gum Disease

In cases of generalised recession (which affects a larger area of the mouth), a history of periodontal disease can be expected. During active stages of the disease, combinations of host-parasite interactions destroy the vital tissue surrounding teeth. Despite the underlying bone thinning, the overlying gum tissue remains plushy and swollen due to active infection. Only when the disease is arrested will the gums shrink down to match the new bone levels.

Unfortunately this side effect of successful periodontal treatment can come as a surprise. During the active stages of the disease, the gums often remain at a cosmetically acceptable level but then shrink once the issue is resolved. However, arresting the degradation of underlying tissue as soon as possible is often the only way to save the teeth and a reduced gum height is usually accepted as a small price to pay.

Other causes of gum recession are less common. Genetics can play a part in a person’s susceptibility to gum disease, which often results in recession. Life choices are also a factor: tongue and lip piercings can rub the gum they have most contact with, causing it to thin and eventually disappear. Emotional and mental status also has a role: clinical depression can result in poor oral hygiene, which may lead to periodontal disease and recession. Similarly, gingivitis artefacta, a very rare type of injurious behaviour, involves picking or scratching at the gums and is often associated with psychological issues.

Periodontal Treatment

Treating gum recession is complex. Very thin oral tissues intended to overlie slim segments of bone are difficult to regain. Gum surgery is an option in some cases and usually involves the removal of a thin section of healthy tissue from an oral donor site (like the palate) and attaching it to a receiving site. While these operations can be wonderfully successful, their longevity needs to be considered for each case. In instances of generalised gum recession following periodontal disease, full-mouth reconstruction (with either donor tissue or prosthetics) is rare, expensive and often unpredictable.

Prevention

A better way to deal with gum recession is perhaps by both preventing it from occurring and treating it symptomatically. Having regular dental checks and maintaining good oral hygiene are often adequate to reduce the risk of gum recession, though removing piercings and visiting a doctor with any psychological concerns are also both important.

Symptomatic relief is generally found through the application of sensitive toothpaste to the areas of exposed dentine. Painful gums should be cleaned gently (a single-tufted brush can be advantageous in these situations). There are also products on the market available to soothe gum pain.

If you are concerned about gum recession or want to know more about treatment and relief options, book an appointment with your dentist today on 0121 357 5000.

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