Tooth discoloration can occur for a variety of reasons from surface stains to severe decay. But what if the discoloration occurs only at the gumline? The issue could be either with the teeth or with the gums, which can recede and leave tooth roots exposed. Here are some top reasons why your teeth could appear discolored or unusual at the gumline.
Abfraction is when a small spot of the tooth surface at your gumline loses its enamel. This leaves a gap between the gumline and the enamel-covered tooth. In this gap, plaque can easily collect, just as in any other crevice in your mouth. And because this spot isn’t protected by enamel anymore, the bacteria can easily attack the soft dentin and cause decay.
Abfraction can sometimes occur along with gum recession, especially if you suffer from bruxism (teeth grinding). When you grind your teeth at night, the repeated pressure can damage the enamel at the gumline, which is why bruxism can be the cause of (or one contributing factor in) abfraction cases.
Talk to your dentist about whether or not you might be experiencing abfraction and whether you may need to be fitted for a nightguard.
2. Gum Recession
A number of different issues can cause gum recession. For instance, if you brush too hard too frequently, your gums can become irritated and start to pull away slightly from their attachment to your teeth, allowing them to recede. This can expose the slightly yellower tooth roots (made of a substance called cementum) at the gumline.
Other potential causes or factors in gum recession include:
- Advancing age
- Gum disease and inflammation
- Bruxism (grinding your teeth)
As you can see, gum recession isn’t necessarily a symptom that points to just one cause. If your gums are starting to recede, your dentist can help you get to the bottom of why it might be happening. Although gum recession isn’t considered reversible, treating the cause could help to slow or avoid further recession.
A cavity at the gumline can also make that area of your tooth look discolored. Although a small spot of decay may be difficult or even impossible to spot, a worsening cavity may turn a brownish color or even black. Gumline cavities can be common especially if you have receding gums, for instance.
If you have receding gums, you may have exposed tooth roots, meaning that you’re susceptible to root cavities. Although it’s far from the only reason why a spot near the gumline would look discolored, tooth decay is a very real possibility. So if you do see discoloration be sure to make an appointment with your dentist to get it diagnosed.
Tartar buildup can often occur along the gumline and cause brownish or yellowish discolorations. Also known as calculus, tartar is a hard substance formed when plaque isn’t completely brushed away. Over time, the plaque builds up and hardens until your dentist can remove it safely. At this point, it’s referred to as tartar.
Your gumline can be an easy place for tartar to occur. That’s because plaque tends to form around the gumline area a lot, and this area isn’t as easy to clean as the more exposed areas of your teeth. Typically, dentists recommend that you use floss each day to help you clean the gumline area.
As you can see, different issues can cause different types of discolorations. If you have a yellowish area along your gumline, for instance, it could be caused by tartar. Or, if it’s slightly indented rather than slightly raised, it could be caused by abfraction or gum recession.
Diagnosing the exact reason for these sorts of tooth issues should be left to your dentist. It’s a complicated subject, and you could even be experiencing more than one of these issues at a time. Contact Accent Dental today to learn more or schedule your next appointment.