Getting Long in the Tooth

First wrinkle. You’re getting old. First grey hair. You’re getting old. Gum `disease kicking in, teeth looking longer. You are NOT necessarily getting old.

The saying “getting long in the tooth” actually comes from horses, because horse teeth continually grow as they get older and you can tell a horses age by their teeth. For humans, we also associate this saying with increasing age. For dentists, we associate this with receding gums. Your teeth then look longer and longer. You start to get gaps in between your teeth, food gets wedged in after each meal, and you find that it actually gets sore when you drink cold water due to sensitivity. Ever experienced any of this? I bet you have.

As gum loss typically begins to occur between the ages of 30-40, many adults in its beginning stages attribute tooth sensitivity and other changes to the aging and forget it. Left unchecked, the gingiva, or gums, can recede greatly to the point of exposing the roots of a tooth. The danger of gum loss is that the gingiva does not grow back once it is gone and treatment for such a condition can require extensive surgery in the long run. Healthy gums are the key to keeping healthy teeth.

It has been found that a number of factors contribute to the problem of receding gums, among them:

  • Gum disease
  • Imbalanced occlusion or bite pattern
  • Heredity
  • Hormonal changes
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Poor diet
  • Major illness and/or medications
  • Either inadequate dental habits or overzealous brushing and flossing

Depending on the cause and the amount of gum loss, treatment for receding gums can be as simple as prescribing an agent for desensitizing teeth with recommendations for a softer toothbrush and gentler brushing techniques.

Recommended techniques for managing or preventing receding gums and long-term damage are as following:

  • Brushing teeth and flossing at least twice a day
  • Using a toothbrush with soft bristles
  • Rinsing the mouth regularly
  • Eating balanced and healthy diet
  • Learn to de-stress in healthy ways
  • Ditch the smoking habit or use of any other tobacco products
  • See a dentist every 6 to 12 months