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Ask a Dentist: Causes and Cures for Shrinking Gums

A lingering glance in the bathroom mirror may bring you the unsettling realization that your gums are shrinking or red, or that your teeth are longer. What’s going on?
Truth be told, it didn’t happen overnight. The condition may have been quietly developing for years, but now it’s clearly visible. Someone may have said something about your bad breath, which can also prompt a closer look in the mirror.
We can see the outline of the teeth below the gumline but we can’t see what’s beneath the gums. There, surrounding the tooth as it embeds into the jawbone is the periodontal ligament, which acts like a hammock, allowing the root of the tooth to move in various directions under the force of biting and chewing. This ligament connects the tooth’s outer root surface to the bone surrounding the tooth. The periodontal ligament is a wonderful arrangement which allows this protective movement and helps guide orthodontic movement of the teeth by the Orthodontist when necessary. Unfortunately, we can treat this ligament very badly.

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