Damaged Teeth & Gums
A walk down the drugstore oral health aisle is a testament to the variety of teeth and gum concerns. While over the counter treatments can be effective and helpful, a consultation with a professional provider can determine a procedure to both correct current concerns, and prevent future teeth and gum issues.
Published: January 27, 2021
Last updated: March 25, 2021
Most of us would agree good oral health and dental care includes a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. We were told avoiding sugary drinks, sugary foods, and coffee will maintain dental health and keep us from toothaches. Unfortunately for many Americans tooth decay, damaged or broken teeth, abnormalities of the gum line, and tooth discoloration can cause frustrating toothaches and/or aesthetic concerns. Fortunately, however, both over the counter treatments and/or a certified professional can help to alleviate these concerns and restore your smile.
What is the anatomy of the teeth and gums?
The gums (or gingiva) overlie the maxilla (upper jaw bone) and mandible (lower jaw bone). This mucosal tissue closely adheres to the jaw bones and forms seals around the teeth protecting the deeper tooth structures from particles in the mouth. Gums should appear pink and moist. Changes in color or moisture can indicate underlying disease or dehydration.
The Anatomy of the Tooth
The teeth are composed of tough, durable enamel which protects the sensitive tooth root containing nerves and blood vessels. The tooth root is embedded in the jaw bone. Humans have 32 teeth grouped by certain characteristics into the categories canines, molars, and incisors.
What are the causes of tooth and gum damage?
Tooth and gum damage can result from both internal and external forces. Genetics, underlying medical illness, certain medications or therapies, poor oral hygiene, tobacco, teeth grinding, and certain food and drink can contribute to tooth and gum damage. An injury or accident can also cause trauma to the teeth and gums.
What are the main concerns related to damaged teeth and gums?
There are numerous concerns related to the appearance of the teeth and gums which can be generally broken down into broader categories outlined below:
- Chipped Teeth: Are generally caused by some sort of trauma or excessive wear and tear. Trauma can result from a biting action (like into hard candy) or from an external force (think a fall or sports injury). Some individuals who grind their teeth may also notice chipping over time.
- Discolored & Stained Teeth: Typically are caused by food/drink, tobacco use, underlying medical disease, or certain medical treatments. The most notorious culprits are coffee and tobacco. Extrinsic stains are on the surface of the tooth and can typically be easily cleaned. Intrinsic stains go deeper into the tooth and usually require professional cleaning.
- Malformed Teeth: Refers to abnormalities of shape and size. Most malformations result from an underlying medical condition affecting enamel. Usually the upper lateral incisors and second premolars are most affected.
- Missing Teeth: May be the result of a trauma or occur with underlying medical illness. Any disease affecting tooth integrity and structure may cause teeth to fall out. And if you’ve ever watched a hockey game you know a puck to the face might just mean a visit to the dentist.
- Gummy Smile: Refers to the appearance of the smile when excessive gum shows between the upper lip and teeth. It can be caused by abnormalities of tooth development, too much upper jaw (maxillary) bone growth, and/or excessive function of the muscles controlling the upper lip.
- Receding Gums: Results in exposure of the tooth root and can be caused by numerous conditions. Aggressive brushing, poor oral health, smoking, genetics, and underlying medical conditions (like HIV or diabetes) can all contribute to gum tissue inappropriately pulling back from the teeth.
Who may wish to change damage to their teeth or gums?
Teeth and gum damage can cause both aesthetic and health concerns. While a damaged or stained tooth, or a gummy smile can be aesthetically undesirable, these concerns, among other teeth and gum abnormalities, can also have a significant impact on oral health and overall health. Some teeth and gum pathologies can indicate underlying illness or predisposition to future issues and should be evaluated by a certified dental professional.
How can someone change damage to their teeth or gums?
Whether your concerns are purely cosmetic or related to an underlying condition, there are numerous procedures available to correct aesthetic and restore or improve function.
For Chipped Teeth:
Depending on severity, a dental procedure to restore previous appearance and preserve structure can be aesthetically and functionally beneficial. Dental Bridges, Dental Crowns, Dental Implants, and All-on-Four Dental Implants are common procedures to achieve this.
For Stained & Discolored Teeth:
Both at home and professional treatments will restore whiteness. Laser Teeth Whitening is a simple outpatient procedure. Dental Bonding, Dental Veneers, and Dental Crowns may be used when there are additional teeth abnormalities.
For Malformed Teeth:
For Missing Teeth:
Numerous restorative measures can be used. Which procedure is most appropriate will be determined by location and extent of the abnormality. Dental Bonding, Dental Bridges, Dental Crowns, Dental Implants, and All-on-Four Dental Implants are all possible solutions.
For Gummy Smile:
A Gummy Smile Surgery or a gingivectomy is a surgical procedure to remove excess gum tissue and improve the appearance of the smile.
For Receding Gums:
A Gum Graft surgical procedure can protect overexposed areas of the teeth from further damage and also restore appearance.
To learn more about all the treatment options outlined above, check out our full guide to Tooth & Gum Restoration Solutions.
Dental health and dental care is so much more than the twice daily toothbrush and toothpaste routine to avoid bad breath. Maintaining tooth enamel and gum health is a vital part of oral health. Regular dental checkups can help to identify potential concerns, and a discussion with a medical professional can determine how to best any aesthetic and functional concerns you may have.
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- Ray C. Williams Periodontal Disease nejm.org; 1990-02-08
- Ana Paula Brugnera, Samir Nammour, José Augusto Rodrigues, Eric Mayer-Santos, Patricia M de Freitas, Aldo Brugnera Junior, Fatima Zanin Clinical Evaluation of In-Office Dental Bleaching Using a Violet Light-Emitted Diode PubMeg.gov; 2019-08-22
- Francesco Cairo Periodontal plastic surgery of gingival recessions at single and multiple teeth PubMed.gov; 2017-10-02