How to combat receding gums?
June 25, 2007 10:09 AM   Subscribe

Help! My teeth are just fine, but my gums seem to be receding. I can't see my dentist for three months. What can I do in the meantime?
posted by krisken to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Stop brushing so hard! I know my dentist told me that overly vigorous brushing with hard bristles lead to rapid gum degeneration.
posted by banannafish at 10:15 AM on June 25, 2007

Floss, floss, floss! You'll be amazed at how quickly your gums will recover.
posted by MrFongGoesToLunch at 10:15 AM on June 25, 2007

Visiting a dentist would be a reasonable course of action. Why can't you see your dentist for three months? Can you see any dentist?
posted by blue mustard at 10:15 AM on June 25, 2007

Use a soft head toothbrush and brush gently.
posted by puritycontrol at 10:23 AM on June 25, 2007

Floss more better/often and possibly get your hands on an irrigator (Waterpik). That's what my dentist recommended the last time I had insurance. I have a 6 month wait at the dental school clinic; I feel your pain.
posted by cobaltnine at 11:07 AM on June 25, 2007

Brush and floss, get the sonic care ultrasonic electric toothbrush. When you brush, kind of start above the gum/tooth line and flick downwards - you should be brushing your teeth for 2-4 minutes twice a day.
posted by zia at 11:07 AM on June 25, 2007

I second puritycontrol atleast thats what my dentist told me.

Use a soft head toothbrush and brush gently.
posted by tke248 at 11:11 AM on June 25, 2007

When my dentist saw my own receded gumline, she explained that she sees it a lot in young women. Apparently some of us want really white, clean, pretty teeth and become over-enthusiastic brushers and brush away our gumlines. I started to get really scared about my gums when a woman I worked with told me she had to have painful skin grafts done on hers, due to severe receeding.

To prevent my gums from receding further, I got a nice electric toothbrush (a Braun) that makes it hard for me to unconciously grind away on my teeth. I also quit brushing my teeth throughout the day (after meals) and now brush in the morning and before bed. Breath mints, mouthwash, dental floss and toothpicks help satisfy my clean mouth obsession without destroying my gums.
posted by pluckysparrow at 11:14 AM on June 25, 2007

I brushed too hard as well, and had no idea it would be a problem.

A year ago, for the first time in several years, I saw the dentist because of bleeding gums. I was past gingivitis, and had periodontitis. The gum erosion is irreversible, but there's a huge amount of damage limitation.

Floss, , every single day. If you find flossing with a length of floss difficult, use one of the flossing tools readily available in CVS or Walgreen's.

Use an electric toothbrush, or if you can't afford one, a Pulsar toothbrush, which is about $5 (my dentist says they're nearly as good as a Sonicare) and also use those little interdental brushes too. If your teeth, like mine, have odd spaces, buy different sized ones. Brush thoroughly, but gently.

Corsodyl also helped. I hated the taste of the mouthwash, so would brush every night with the gel.

A year on, I've been diligent with my dental regime and my hygienist is delighted with my progress. My gums no longer bleed, hot and cold drinks aren't a problem and I don't think my teeth are about to fall out (yet).
posted by essexjan at 11:28 AM on June 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have a similar problem with overzealous brushing, my dentist also recommended staying away from whitening toothpaste since they are more abrasive than the normal stuff and use a toothbrush with a bendy handle to prevent pushing too hard on the brush.
posted by estronaut at 11:31 AM on June 25, 2007

2nding Sonicare + flossing every night.
posted by gnutron at 11:39 AM on June 25, 2007

Brush gently, floss regularly, and if you're a clencher/grinder make sure you're following your recommended routines such as wearing a night/bite guard.

And see your dentist :)
posted by sourlime at 11:40 AM on June 25, 2007

I second everyone who said stop brushing so hard. That was my issue.
My dentist recommended I get a mechanical toothbrush (which I brush with at least 2x/day) and floss at least 1x/day.
You can't reverse receeded gums due to hard brushing (except via surgery). But you can stop the recession from going any further.
If you can't get a mechanical toothbrush, get a soft head one and floss, floss, floss. Lose the death grip on your toothbrush and gently articulate it around your mouth. THe mechanical ones are great because they do all the work for you and you just move it around your mouth.
Good luck!
posted by FergieBelle at 12:28 PM on June 25, 2007

Seconding what sourlime said, as I was at my dentist this very morning and pointed out a spot that seemed to be receding. I did so sheepishly, assuming the solution would be a reprimand to floss more -- but it turned out that I am clenching at night which can cause gum recession (had no idea that was possible, or that I was clenching).

So, until you see your dentist, you can

1. yes, floss more
2. yes, brush less vigorously
3. till you hear it from a professional, don't kick yourself with a self-diagnosis that your inattention to oral health has necessarily caused the problem, as it might end up being something you don't control.
posted by pineapple at 12:37 PM on June 25, 2007

Oranges and lemons?
posted by tmcw at 1:09 PM on June 25, 2007

To counter the conventional wisdom, I've heard that gum recession is caused by clenching/grinding, not by over-brushing.
posted by footnote at 1:29 PM on June 25, 2007

yup, my dentist told me about the clenching/grinding...and i noticed my gums got better when i stopped doing all that tense stuff. (combination of awareness of the clenching during the day and reducing my stress so it wouldn't be so bad at night).
posted by hazel at 1:43 PM on June 25, 2007

Here's some support for the view that brushing doesn't cause gum damage.
posted by footnote at 1:58 PM on June 25, 2007

Perio-aid is your friend.
posted by Danf at 3:27 PM on June 25, 2007

The advice is good upthread. But, and I hate to be a downer, you may need a minor surgery to fix your gum recession. I have had this surgery...the doc takes a bit of tissue off the roof of your mouth and sews it wherever your gums have disappeared. It really isn't anywhere near as gruesome as it sounds. This might be the case, or very likely is not. One other thing, if you are a smoker this is yet another very good reason to stop.
posted by fieldtrip at 8:26 PM on June 25, 2007

I have had success with mega-dosing (2 Grams+/day) vitamin C. There is also some evidence that large doses of flax seed oil are good for the gums (although perhaps not specifically for receding.)
posted by O Blitiri at 2:05 PM on June 26, 2007

My dentist prescribed a high-fluoride toothpaste for receding gums (in my case caused by clenching and toothgrinding) which I'm supposed to not rinse after brushing; supposedly the extra fluoride strengthens the exposed roots. So you might try that. It'll make your mouth taste like hell in the morning, though, fair warning.
posted by ook at 4:46 PM on June 26, 2007

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