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Dentistry/Brushing and gum recession


Hello. I'm a 58 year old male with receding gums. I floss, chew Xylitol gum, have regular cleanings and always use a "boil and bite" mouth guard when sleeping. In order to avoid contributing to further recession I use an electric toothbrush with a soft-bristled head held lightly at a 45 degree angle at the gum line, and try not to brush too long. However, if I minimize actual brushing time to avoid putting pressure on the gums, I can feel and see that a certain amount of plaque remains, especially where crowns meet the gum, and of course plaque can eventually contribute to gum recession. So I feel caught between a rock and a hard place. How can I not contribute to gum recession through brushing? Thank you.

Hello Bill,

It sounds like you are doing all the right things to brush and take care of your teeth.  You are brushing consistently, using a soft bristled head, flossing, and getting regular checkups. And you even use the "boil and bite" mouth guard cleaning process to prevent infection.

Now, because your gums are receding, you should probably take this beyond your regular dentist.  A visit to a Periodontist would be a wise investment of your time and money.  As you may be aware, a Periodontist focuses more on soft tissue that supports the teeth, and prevention of gum disease.  There are many remedies that a Periodontist can offer such as bone grafting or tissue recontouring.

Let me know what you find out!  Good luck!

Best Regards,
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Jonathan at PatientBabble


My area of expertise from the patients point of view would be Dentistry/TMJ plus the speech challenges that these jaw and bite problems sometimes represent. Over the years I have seen a multitude of dentists, orthodontists, oral surgeons, speech therapists, neurologists and other health professionals who all had an opinion about my TMJ/bite problem. I AM NOT A DOCTOR...but would purely be a patients point of view type person. I "get it" when people say they tried to explain to their dentist what their TMJ/bite problem is and that they are misunderstood. I can listen to people's trials and tribulations and there is a good chance I have been down that road before. I can make suggestions as to what people can do at home, or what questions to ask their doctor or dentist when they visit. I will try and recall information or experiences that may be helpful to you.


About 25 years ago, I had my wisdom teeth out and since then my bite has never felt "normal." For whatever reason, the first sensation I remember was not that my bite was off.....but rather that my normal tongue and speech patterns had been impeded. I spent years going to different dentists, who lumped me into their generic version of what they knew about TMJ. The majority of dentists believe they can treat TMJ, but only those whose primary focus is TMJ treatment, are really any good at it. Any dentist, can take an impression of your teeth, send that impression off to the lab and have them make a night guard. That is the easy part. The tricky part is what the dentist does with the night guard, once receiving it from the lab. The dentist has to do a "fitting" where they tailor the night guard to be evenly balanced and comfortable in your mouth. Sometimes it can take a few visits, because further adjustments need to be made to the night guard appliance, to get it just right. I have found that dentists, who have had the most practice, do a better job at fitting your appliance. It's almost like an art form.

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