What is Gingival Recession and What Causes it?

Of the many health issues facing people, dental health can have far-reaching implications, from whole-body health to self-esteem. If your teeth and gums aren’t kept in peak condition with regular checkups and constant oral care at home, several conditions can crop up that can only be fixed with restorative dental treatments that we offer at South Meadows Dental & Orthodontics.

One of the most often ignored issues people encounter is gum disease, which is marked by gingival recession, or receding gums. There are many possible and contributing causes of this condition, and few solutions, which means preventive care is extremely important to prevent gum disease.

What is Gingival Recession?

Gingival recession is the phenomenon of gum tissue receding from the visible parts of the teeth in the mouth. Not only does this become apparent as your teeth appear larger, with more surface enamel exposed, but it also leads to symptoms like sensitivity, accelerated tooth decay, and pain.

Gingival recession is the main symptom of gum disease, also called gingivitis, which can lead to more serious decay called periodontal disease, which requires more frequent and more involved teeth cleanings from a dentist in Reno.

The Causes of Gingival Recession

The general cause of gingivitis or gingival recession is poor oral health. However, certain behaviors, habits, and substances can accelerate the condition. Tooth grinding, or bruxism, can accelerate all kinds of tooth decay and damage, including gingival recession. In addition, overly aggressive brushing or toothbrushes with too-hard bristles can wear away at gums and irritate them more immediately, as well as brushing with a purely side-to-side motion as opposed to a circular one.

Finally, tobacco use and piercings can aggravate the gums and teeth, quickening gum disease and gumline recession. With age, all of these causes will worsen the condition of the teeth, gums, or both.

What’s problematic about gum disease is that it’s often painless. People don’t realize they have an issue until it becomes uncomfortable or unbearable, meaning it takes years for the disease to manifest and get worse before people seek treatment. This re-emphasizes the importance of regular checkups and cleanings by a dentist who can see more than you might feel in your mouth, spotting the early stages of gingival recession and creating a treatment plan to stop or even reverse it.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Gingival Recession

Diagnosing gum disease is relatively simple. There are standard protocols to measure the depth of gum loss to determine if you have gum disease, periodontitis, or other degrees of gingival recession. From there, your dentist will ask you about your oral health, including any symptoms involving tooth grinding and other potential risk factors. You will then be advised on a treatment plan to fill cavities, treat sensitive teeth, remove piercings, quitting smoking, or many other types of lifestyle changes that might help slow the progress of gum disease.

Gum and Dental Care in Reno, NV

If you’re suffering from sensitive teeth, sudden changes in your oral health, or a cosmetic issue with your smile or mouth, the dental professionals at South Meadows Dental & Orthodontics are here to help. Call or contact us online to start a conversation about your needs and our availability.

Tooth Decay: What is it and How do I Avoid it?

At South Meadows Dental & Orthodontics, our goal is to help you maintain a natural, healthy smile. Unfortunately, tooth decay can get in the way and cause you to lose your natural teeth. We want you to understand how tooth decay happens and what you can do to prevent it so you can keep your natural smile for a lifetime!

What Causes Decay?

Bacteria and sugar are the two main causes of tooth decay. Thousands of tiny, microscopic bacteria exist in your mouth but don’t worry, most of these bacteria are beneficial. However, two types of bacteria are harmful causes of tooth decay: mutans streptococcus and lactobacillus. These bacteria can quickly reproduce if you are not brushing and flossing regularly since they thrive on sugar. If sugary residue is left on your teeth, these bacteria will form large colonies that lead to plaque and buildup on your teeth. As the bacteria feed off these sugars, a chemical reaction breaks the sugar down into simpler elements like acid. Acid breaks down your tooth enamel and weakens your teeth.

Plaque is the built-up residue of food, bacteria, and a film of saliva. Sugars are found in starchy foods like pasta, bread, and sweets. If you do not brush regularly, this food residue will stick to your teeth and continue forming until the plaque turns into tartar. Tartar is a hardened, mineralized form of plaque that can develop in as little as 24 hours, which is why it is recommended you brush your teeth in the morning and at night.

How Does Decay Happen?  

As starches break down, sugars are released, and bacteria break down this sugar into acid, the protective enamel layer on your teeth dissolves. This forms a demineralized area that appears as a white or brown spot on our tooth – the first sign of tooth decay. If the area is left untreated, it will progress into a cavity or a hole on the surface of your tooth. It’s important to treat tooth decay before it penetrates that protective outer layer because once a cavity has reached the softer interior layer of the tooth, it grows more quickly and leads to more complications.

How to Avoid Decay?

By limiting the number of times you eat each day and moderating your intake of sugar or starches, you can decrease acid production and strengthen your teeth. Regular brushing and flossing are also essential for maintaining healthy, strong teeth since this eliminates plaque buildup. When plaque is destroyed, the number of harmful bacteria on the surface of your teeth is also destroyed, significantly reducing the production of harmful acid. Using a toothpaste that contains fluoride is also a great way to strengthen your tooth enamel since fluoride is resistant to decay. In between brushing your teeth, rinse your mouth with a fluoride mouth rinse and chew sugarless gum to reduce acid attacks.

Schedule a Consultation

To learn more about how you can care for your teeth and to treat tooth decay already in the process, visit our team of dental specialists in Reno, NV. We offer dental crowns, fillings, and professional cleanings to treat and prevent tooth decay. Give our office a call at (775) 413-2976 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a complimentary consultation.

How Cavities Affect Your Teeth

Although it may not seem like it, your teeth are vulnerable to the bacteria in your mouth pretty much around the clock. Your mouth is full of chemical reactions taking place during and after you eat, whenever you drink something, and while you sleep. These reactions are strong enough to erode the strongest substance in your body: your tooth enamel. Without proper dental care, tooth erosion can lead to issues such as cavities, which can be addressed with our dental team before they become bigger, more expensive or invasive issues.

What Are Cavities?

Cavities are just that: cavities that form in your teeth. They are the beginnings of tooth decay, defined as holes in the enamel, the hard external shell of your teeth. Cavities can be visible or hidden (but still visible on X-ray), and quickly progress to more painful and serious conditions when they penetrate to the dentin. Dentin is the softer layer of tissue below the enamel that is more vulnerable to decay. Within the dentin is the highly sensitive region called the pulp layer, home to many nerves and blood vessels that can also be affected by bacterial reactions.

How Do Cavities Form?

Cavities form when the bacteria always present in your mouth break down common chemical compounds such as sugars and starches for energy and as a result, create acids. These acids are corrosive, like all acids, and break down the molecules of your teeth and gums. Enamel is the most well-protected layer of teeth. Once the enamel is perforated, the lower layers are even more subject to decay from these acids and bacteria, which is why regular dental checkups and good oral hygiene are so important to overall teeth and gums health.

Treating Cavities and Tooth Decay

Cavities are typically easy to spot before they become complicated dental procedures via oral examination or X-ray imaging. The treatment protocol for cavities is to drill out the decayed portion of the tooth to physically remove active sites of decay and to provide a uniform area to apply a filling.

Cavities are filled with a composite resin material that reinforces tooth structure for a long time. However, fillings for cavities aren’t permanent, and the risk of tooth decay can come back as long as dental hygiene or checkup habits aren’t improved. This is why regular checkups are important because you typically don’t notice a cavity forming in your on your own. Our dentists at South Meadows Dental can spot cavities quickly and restore your tooth health without needing expensive and extensive procedures such as a root canal. Ultimately, the best cure is preventing tooth decay in the first place, with expert advice from our specialists and hygienists.

Regular Dental Checkups in Reno, NV

At South Meadows Dental, our priority is your health and wellbeing beyond your regular dental checkup. Your twice-yearly appointments are more than just about keeping your teeth free of cavities, but also about making your smile as healthy and brilliant as possible. Call our office or contact us online to schedule your checkup today.

Common Tooth Brushing Mistakes

south meadows dental reno

Brushing your teeth seems like a pretty simple activity to do to keep teeth and gums healthy; why do so many of us end up in our dentist’s office perplexed at the level of disease and decay that exists in our mouths? Maybe tooth brushing isn’t as simple as it seems; what if we’ve picked up some bad habits along the way that are contributing to oral disease and decay? There are common mistakes that many people make that contribute to poor oral health. Follow these simple tips for a healthy, gleaming smile AND a great report from your dentist:

Mistake #1: Keeping a toothbrush for too long

If you were to examine your toothbrush, what would you see? Do you leave toothpaste residue in between bristles, adding to the potential development of bacteria in your mouth? Are your bristles worn and tattered? The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months, so if you haven’t done so, it’s time to run to the store for a new toothbrush. Mark your calendar after purchasing, and commit to this simple act of self-care periodically as you shop for other household items. Your teeth will thank you.

Mistake #2: Not brushing long enough

Your brush should be brushed for at least two minutes, twice a day. This is about the length of the song Happy Birthday, sung two times through. While you can’t sing with a toothbrush in your mouth, you could hum or sing along in your head, making sure you scrub all surfaces of teeth, gums, and even your tongue thoroughly, rinse well afterward to make sure your mouth is squeaky clean.

Mistake #3: Brushing teeth too hard

Brushing your teeth too hard, or with a brush that has hard, wiry bristles can actually cause damage to your teeth. You can wear away protective enamel and erode gum tissue by brushing too hard. Use a gentle circular motion when brushing, and you’ll keep all tooth and gum surfaces intact.

Mistake #4: Brushing right after eating

If you have consumed something acidic, it’s best to wait at least 30 minutes after eating before brushing your teeth. Brushing too soon after eating or drinking acidic foods will actually embed the acid still present in the mouth into the enamel of your teeth, causing damage and erosion. Giving your saliva a chance to neutralize acid will prevent excess erosion from occurring.

Mistake #5: Storing brushes improperly

Your toothbrush should be well rinsed after every use, and it should be stored upright, giving it a chance to air out completely. Storing in an airtight container or in a glass with liquid gives germs and bacteria an opportunity to grow on your bristles, putting you at risk for more bacteria and infection to grow in your mouth with each use.

Mistake #6: Using improper brushing technique

Your tooth brushing should be done in a gentle, circular motion, encompassing both all tooth surfaces and gum tissue. Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle, and use wide, thorough strokes when brushing, including the tongue and insides of cheeks as well. Brush for two minutes, and rinse with water thoroughly to remove excess food debris, toothpaste, and bacteria.

Mistake #7: Failing to floss

Brushing cannot reach everywhere in the mouth; floss is necessary for maintaining optimal oral health. After brushing, floss in between and around all teeth and along the gumline will significantly reduce your chances of developing gum disease and decay. Aim for flossing at least once daily for the best results.

South Meadows Dental: Your Partner In Oral Wellness

The talented and caring professionals at South Meadows Dental & Orthodontics have your oral health as their ultimate goal. Using a combination of cutting edge dental technologies, an emphasis on patient-centered care, and a passion for dental health, we will work with you to design a comprehensive care plan that works for you. Contact us today for more information and to set up an appointment. A healthy and vibrant smile is just a click away!