Shortened gums are typically looked at as a cosmetic problem, but they can be a health issue, too. If you've noticed that your gums look shorter than other people's or your teeth look longer than they used to, then you should read this guide to find out why your teeth may be at risk and what you can do to put a stop to potential damage.
How They Get That Way
Gums don't normally shrink all on their own. The condition in question is called receding gums, and it usually develops as a result of a secondary health condition.
For example, one of the leading causes of receding gums is uncontrolled gum disease. Early-stage gum disease, like gingivitis, usually doesn't cause this condition. However, if it's left untreated and progresses into periodontitis, it can cause your gums to recede and stay that way.
Alternatively, this is a problem that many people who smoke have. Cigarette smoke is very inflammatory to your gums, so even if you avoid getting gum disease, you could still end up with receding gums just due to smoking.
Shortened gums don't just look weird; they put your teeth at risk, too.
You've probably read or heard at some point that teeth are covered in a hard shell called enamel. This protective substance is designed to help thwart bacteria from causing cavities. It's not invulnerable, of course, but people would have far more dental problems if they lacked enamel.
Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that the entire tooth actually isn't covered in enamel. Only the visible parts of the tooth are. Beyond the point where your gums typically cover your teeth, the teeth lack enamel because the gums do the job of keeping foreign substances and bacteria out. And since your teeth can't just grow new enamel to compensate for your receding gums, this means that your teeth are at a higher risk of suffering damage and getting cavities now.
What to Do About It
Although it may surprise you, your best bet for fixing this condition is to visit a cosmetic dentist.
Your cosmetic dentist will check your gums to ensure that you don't have active gum disease. If everything looks good, you can proceed with a gum graft procedure. This procedure takes a tiny sliver of tissue from the inside of your mouth and reshapes it to match your gums. Then, the tissue is connected to your gums with sutures. The body will gradually integrate the two pieces together until they form a seamless set of gums. This will immediately improve your appearance, and once the new tissue is integrated, it'll keep your teeth safe, too.
Shrunken, receded gums aren't something you should ignore. Get help for this condition from a cosmetic dentist before it hurts your teeth for good.
To learn more, contact a cosmetic dentist.