Strong “Gums” for Healthy Teeth and Implants
Q: I retired from a job that had me moving heavy items every day for 30 years – hundreds of lifts per day. My dentist used to say “you’re grinding and clenching your teeth.” I’d say “well doc if you had to push, pull and carry tons every day and drive through the streets trying to make and keep a schedule, you’d grind too!.” When I retired, I moved to within a five-hour drive of my son who’s a dentist. A few months ago, I saw him professionally and he told me I had a lot of gum recession especially around the bottom teeth and that all the gum that is supposed to fit tightly around my teeth was gone. He also said some of my teeth were starting to get slightly loose. He said “I don’t know what to do for you. You don’t have decay, but you’ve got a lot of wear and you’ve lost about one third of the bone around your teeth. I can’t do specialty treatments and I don’t really know if that’s what you need.”
As I was on my way back “home” where I I’d worked and we raised our family, I got an appointment with a friend who’s a dentist for a second look to see what he had to say. When he took a look, he told me I needed a lot of gum grafting and a lot of crowns so my teeth would work right –at least that’s what I got out of it. Gum grafting and proper tooth alignment would help me keep my teeth and he said the grafting can make my teeth firm up. Is that true?
A: There are many variables when speaking of loose teeth so in response to your question the answer is yes and no. In my experience, I have seen teeth in the lower jaw firm up after extensive grafting. I have seen teeth with slight movement get rigidly firm.
Having said that it is not advisable to graft gum around teeth that are noticeably loose. When possible the forces on a tooth or teeth should be modified to remove excessive force before surgery.
Gum grafting provides tremendous support to the bone surrounding each tooth and also acts as a seal and mechanical barrier against bacteria and abrasive foods. This phenomenon is also most vital around implants. In fact, the need around implants is so important it’s making us think more carefully about gum or gingival support of our natural teeth.
You may also need your teeth crowned to restore proper function. I have seen many who with your condition after this kind of treatment see not only a beautiful smile but strong functional “disease free gums and teeth”.