Seeing darker portions of the tooth along the gum line is not a good sign and not something you should ignore. The visibility of darker portions of the tooth, which is the tooth root, indicates gum recession, and when the root becomes more exposed, the area becomes sensitive to brushing, cold and hot. Gum recession is usually a gradual process, and other earlier issues such as tooth sensitivity may precede the visibility of a darker area. Treating gum recession promptly is essential for protecting and maintaining your oral health.
Causes of gum recession
Many people mistakenly think that tooth pain and sensitivity are due to a cavity and may not seek immediate treatment. However, any tooth discomfort or unusual discoloration such as darkening at the gum line requires prompt attention to avoid it developing into something more serious. Understanding the causes of gum recession can help you seek proper treatment and start taking better care of your teeth and gums. The causes of gum recession include:
- Brushing too hard – Although it’s important to remove bacteria and food particles from your teeth and gums, if you brush too hard and scrub with a hard bristle toothbrush, you’re doing more harm than good. Brushing too hard can wear down tooth enamel and damage gum tissue, which leads to receding gums and sometimes tooth loss.
- Inadequate oral hygiene – On the opposite end of brushing too hard, is not brushing at all or not enough. Without daily brushing and flossing, oral bacteria accumulate and become plaque and tartar. Only a dentist can remove tartar, and if it’s not removed, it can eat away at gum tissues, leading to gum recession.
- Gum disease – Gum disease is one of the top causes of receding gums. The diseased gums caused by accumulated bacteria between teeth and the gum line loosen away from teeth. If gum disease progresses without treatment, the supporting bone and gum tissues around teeth suffer damage that can result in tooth loss.
- Clenching and grinding teeth – Clenching and grinding teeth during sleep places enough force on teeth to move them out of their correct position and can lead to gums pulling away from teeth.
- Misaligned teeth – Crooked, misaligned teeth create increased force during chewing, biting and sleeping and this can lead to strain on the bone, jaw joints and gums.
- Hormone level changes – In women, hormone level changes during puberty, pregnancy and menopause can increase gum sensitivity and the chances of gum recession.
- Tobacco use – Chemicals found in all forms of tobacco products from cigarettes to chewing tobacco, dry out oral tissues, which leads to less saliva production. Without enough saliva, the mouth becomes dry and can’t wash bacteria from food and drinks away. This bacteria damages gum tissue and leads to gum recession.
Addressing gum recession
Not only do dark areas on teeth from gum recession cause cosmetic issues with your smile, but they also indicate that the teeth have a higher risk of developing decay or gum disease. To protect the health and appearance of your teeth and smile, the dentist needs to treat gum recession before it develops into something more severe. Treating gum recession is something your dentist can do quickly and comfortably when addressed promptly.
Whenever you experience discomfort, increased sensitivity or darkness along the gum line, it’s important to contact your dental professional immediately. Chianese Dental can help with all your restorative and cosmetic dental needs and keep your smile looking its best.