When you think of mouthguards, you think of protecting your teeth. Whether wearing an athletic guard during a football game or a nighttime guard to prevent damage from teeth grinding, your primary goal is to protect your teeth. But, did you know that the same mouthguard can actually cause damage to your teeth and gums? Improper mouthguard care can actually contribute to gum disease and gum recession.
What is Gum Recession?
Gum recession is when your gum tissue pulls down from the surface of your tooth. When your gums recede, the tooth’s root is often exposed, resulting in sensitivity to hot and cold. In addition, when the gums recede, they leave a gap between the gum and the tooth where bacteria can enter and build up. If left untreated, this can contribute to serious dental decay and damage to the bone structure, resulting in tooth loss.
What Causes Your Gums to Recede?
The main cause of receding gums is periodontal disease or gum disease. This is an infection of the gums and other structures supporting your teeth. The early stage of periodontal disease is known as gingivitis. This is a bacterial infection that begins in the gums and is often associated with poor oral hygiene and plaque buildup. Before your gums recede, you may experience bleeding or swollen gums, tender gums, and bad breath.
While periodontal disease is the main cause of gum recession, other possible causes can include:
- Brushing teeth too hard or with a hard-bristled toothbrush
- Trauma to the gums, such as an injury
- Genetic predisposition
- Teeth grinding
Teeth grinding is also a common cause of gum recession due to the force your grinding places on the teeth and supporting tissue. In many cases, the use of a night grinding guard helps protect the teeth and reduce the risk of gum recession. But, while you may wear a guard to prevent damage to your gums, if you aren’t careful, that same guard can cause what you are trying to prevent.
How Can a Mouthguard Contribute to Gum Recession?
So, how can your mouthguard play a role in gum recession? Let’s first look at your mouth. Your mouth is a natural breeding ground for bacteria. Natural bacteria live in your mouth all the time. Some aid in digestion and are beneficial, but other bacteria contribute to tooth decay by combining with your saliva and creating plaque. This is the reason brushing and flossing is so important. Regular removal of this bacteria and plaque keep the levels in check.
If you wear a mouthguard on a regular basis and are experiencing gum recession, a new mouthguard may be able to help. Visit SportingSmiles today for more information on our high-quality custom athletic mouthguards and teeth grinding guards.
Knowing this, let’s look at your mouthguard. Your mouthguard enters your mouth and becomes an extension of this bacterial breeding ground. A mouthguard may look like a solid piece of material, but the truth is, it is very porous and allows bacteria to take up residence. When a bacteria-filled mouthguard sits against your teeth, it increases the bacterial exposure, thus increasing the risk of bacterial infection. If you wear a dirty mouthguard all night, such as for teeth grinding, that bacteria is held against your teeth. Therefore, proper mouthguard care is so essential!
Reducing the Risk of Periodontitis and Gum Recession
So how do you reduce your risk of periodontal disease and gum recession when you wear a mouthguard? That’s easy! Practice good oral hygiene and clean your mouthguard before and after wear to help reduce bacterial levels. Replace broken or damaged mouthguards immediately as these can develop increased bacterial levels as well as reduced protection.
At SportingSmiles, we understand the benefits of a good mouthguard, as well as the importance of proper care. For more information on how to reduce bacteria and keep your mouthguard clean, check out our blog Mouthguards: How to Clean Your Mouthguard. In addition, if you are in need of a replacement mouthguard or nighttime teeth grinding guard, SportingSmiles can help. We offer a wide selection of guards at a fraction of the cost. For more information, visit Athletic Mouth Guards or Teeth Grinding Guards today.