The damage it can cause it’s estimated that two out of three people apply too much pressure when brushing, pushing back the gumline.
“As soon as the gums recede just one-eighth of an inch, the root—which is more prone to staining, sensitivity and cavities—becomes exposed,” says Dr. Goldstein.
Exposed roots can lead to sensitivity, which prompts many patients to brush and floss less because of the discomfort. As a result, plaque accumulates, contributing to cavities and further gum recession. But how do you know if you’re brushing too hard? “When you brush your teeth, you should be able to hear the bristles moving,” Dr. Smigel says. “If you can’t, you’re brushing too hard.” Dr. Goldstein adds, “If you could lightly glide a soft-point brush over your teeth to remove the plaque, that would be ideal. The less trauma you cause to your gum tissue the better.”
For teeth that are severely worn, the only saving grace is dental crowns—hollow, teeth-like caps that are permanently cemented over your natural teeth. Your dentist will file down the damaged tooth to create room for the crown, which can be made from metal, porcelain or a combination of both. Impressions are then taken and sent to a lab, and a temporary plastic crown is put in place. Once the final restoration is received, your dentist will make sure it fits properly, adjusting its size, shape and sheen if necessary, before cementing it into place. “New, all-ceramic crowns are strong enough to be used on both the front and back of the teeth. And for those with heavy bites, a zirconia core can be used for extra strength,” Dr. Goldstein says.
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