Gum Loss: It’s Not As Inevitable As You Think

Gradual change can be difficult to notice. Changes along our gumline fall into this category, especially given that erosion occurs in small increments. How much erosion is normal, and what causes it? Let’s take a look.woman good but shows gums_cropped

Most patients believe gum recession is a natural part of aging. That’s certainly true among otherwise healthy mouths, but in many cases, it’s preventable. The biggest offenders:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Clenching or grinding your teeth
  • Over-vigorous or improper brushing
  • Aggressive flossing
  • Exposure to acids in sports and energy drinks
  • Tobacco use
  • The frequent use of whitening products

Each item on this list causes gum loss, and each can be prevented. Poor oral hygiene is a key culprit behind periodontal disease, which is a frequent cause of gum recession. If you grind your teeth at night, we can help you with a mouth guard. If you’re over-enthusiastic about brushing or flossing, your hygienist can offer guidance for proper technique.

If you smoke, drink energy drinks frequently, or use tobacco products, cut back or stop altogether. As is so often the case, the things that are bad for your oral health are also bad for your overall health. And lastly, if you’re abusing whitening strips, your teeth are probably super-white already. If not, talk to our staff about whether you’re a candidate for longer-lasting whitening methods.

How can you tell if your gums are eroding? The most proactive step you can take is to visit your dentist. In fact, if you’re going regularly, the team at Future of Dentistry has already been monitoring your recession. We regularly measure the recession of your gums and the depths of your gum pockets.

The first symptom of gum recession is usually tooth sensitivity, so be on the lookout for this tell-tale sign. Reduce or eliminate the bad habits, and ask your dentist how you’re doing in terms of gum care.

There are certainly ways to address gum recession that’s already occurred, including gum surgery. If recession is due to periodontal disease, our team uses special techniques and tools to improve and maintain your smile. But the best solution is prevention.

The Best Defense: Protecting Young Athletes

For many families, this time of year is focused on sports. Summer athletic camps are increasingly popular, and parents often have to start preparing early for fall activities. You may already be thinking about replacing equipment, registrations, and scheduling – whether you like it or not!Inside Spread_Page1A

When you’re planning for student athletics, please keep mouth guards in mind. Athletes are 60 times more likely to suffer a dental injury when not wearing a mouth guard.

Unfortunately, athletic injuries aren’t just a remote possibility. More than 5 million teeth are knocked out each year through sports. Serious results – such as nerve damage, jaw fracture or tooth loss – cause the patient a great deal of pain. There is good news too: There are ways to help kids play safe and stay safe.

Studies show that custom-fitted mouth guards protect better against concussions/mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI). They also offer the best protection against damage to teeth, jaws, lips, tongue, gums and soft tissues of the mouth.

This is why Future of Dentistry introduced a program to raise awareness about the importance of custom-fitted guards, and why we’re working to make them accessible to every student-athlete.

Our mission was inspired in part by Anthony Fabiano, a Wakefield native who’s now in the NFL, and his family. Please reach out if you’d like to learn more about our program, using the contact information at the top of this page.

Safety First

With custom-fitted guards, our team creates an impression of your teeth. It’s a quick, painless process for the patient.mouth guard youth sports

A guard is then designed for the unique contours and position of the patient’s teeth and gums. The result is a guard that’s more effective because it’s personalized. It’s also created from durable materials, and tends to be more comfortable for the wearer.

Many parents purchase generic-fit and “boil-and-bite” mouth guards from sporting goods stores. These products are certainly better than none at all, but they don’t protect the teeth, jaw and mouth as well as custom-fitted, professional guards.

Scientific research indicates that professionally-fitted guards offer the best defense against concussions. One recent study focused on high school football. It showed that players wearing over-the-counter mouth guards were more than twice as likely to suffer MTBI/concussions than those wearing custom-made, properly fitted guards.

From the NFL to Pop Warner, there’s an effort underway to educate people about the dangers of concussions. It’s become clear that concussions cause far more damage to the brain than we realized. These injuries can’t simply be shrugged off, and prevention is essential.

Mouth guards are also beneficial to adult athletes, whether you’re a “Weekend Warrior” in a competitive league or you occasionally play pickup games.

Fact and Fiction

Even when wearing a helmet, there are risks. Think of how jarring an impact can be when you fall, collide with a player, or are hit by a ball. You may suddenly bite down at a bad angle. When this happens, you could chip a tooth, suffer trauma to the jaw, or bite your tongue or inner cheeks. Customized mouth guards help minimize these internal risks. They pick up where the helmet leaves off.

We often associate mouth guards with football, hockey and lacrosse, but in fact, they benefit participants in almost any sport or activity.

It’s all too common for a baseball to go astray or a young skateboarder to “wipe out.” Usually these are minor incidents, but mouth guards reduce the risk of serious injury. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons recommends mouth guards for a variety of sports, including soccer, horseback riding and gymnastics.

Basketball is another good example. You may not think mouth guards are needed for youth hoops, but they’re important in any sport where players jump or run. Just ask the NBA player who refused to wear one and lost four teeth starting in college.

It may seem odd for children to wear mouth guards for non-contact sports, but remember that most safety measures seemed strange when they were first introduced – from seat belts to bicycle helmets.

There’s also a misconception that only older players need guards. However, children are most susceptible to sports-related oral injury between ages 7 and 11, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

One day, mouth guards may be required for all youth sports. Until then, it’s up to all of us to safeguard our children’s health and wellbeing.

First Tooth Traditions

At Future of Dentistry, we feel like our patients are part of our family. This was especially true on Thursday when we welcomed a new (and very cute!) patient.

abigail first visit
Abigail’s first dental visit was a little ahead of schedule!

Adorable Abigail is the granddaughter of Darlene, our lead dental assistant, but this wasn’t a social visit. Abigail was spending time with her Aunt Allyson, and auntie noticed something different about the baby’s gums.

It seemed unlikely to be a tooth, since Abigail is just 5 months old, and baby teeth usually emerge later. Of course, Allyson knew just where to go to find out!

Thanks to Abigail and her family, we learned a new expression: “Whoever finds the first tooth buys the first pair of walking shoes.”

This is actually an OLD saying, and it means that if you’re the first person to notice a baby’s first tooth, it’s your job to get them shoes! The phrase is a throwback from the old days when shoes were expensive, although some people still say it today as a first-tooth tradition.

Abigail’s aunt handled the situation perfectly. We usually recommend bringing children in by age 2 for their first appointment with the dentist, but if you’re not sure about something, it’s a good idea to contact us and set up a short visit. (There’s no charge for this consultation.)

First tooth parties
First tooth parties have become a popular tradition for many families! (Photo: Pinterest)

In this case, the doctor confirmed what the family suspected. Little Abigail is a bit ahead of the usual timeline, with a first tooth that has almost emerged.

Tooth Parties And Tooth Jewelry

A few members of the Future of Dentistry team grew up with the phrase “Whoever finds the first tooth buys the first pair of walking shoes,” but most of us had never even heard of it. What about YOU? Do you use this expression in your family, or have any fun first-tooth traditions?

The first tooth is always a rite of passage, but some families celebrate it in special ways. They might make pancakes (yes, pancakes!) when the first teeth appear. Maybe because the baby is old enough to chew food then, but only soft food?

Other people give a gift of silver, which is why a lot of silver-colored “first tooth keepsake boxes” are sold online. First tooth parties are also becoming very popular. The most unique tradition, though, is for when the first tooth falls out. Many moms are now using baby teeth to create jewelry!

Click here for Tips On Tranquil Teething, and please don’t hesitate to call us at 781-245-2299 if you have any questions about your little one’s pearly whites!