Mimi Murphy's Medical Breakthroughs: Repair Receding Gums

Medical Breakthroughs
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Brushing your teeth too hard can promote receding gums, and consuming very acidic foods and drinks can promote tooth erosion. If your gums recede too far, your teeth can be left vulnerable to decay. Now there's a simple fix.

Not long ago, Herbert Joyner found out there was something wrong with his teeth.

"I was unaware of it at all," Joyner said.

Joyner had no pain, no sensitivity to hot or cold, but his gums had receded so far that notches formed. The sensitive upper part of his teeth was exposed. Typically, a filling material is used to cover the exposed areas and holes are drilled to help hold the material in place. But Joyner's dentist signed him up for a study of a new technique.

A drill is used briefly to rough up the tooth's smooth surface. Then an adhesive is applied. It's lightly dried, then cured with a high intensity blue light. The filling material is applied.

"Once that is all set, the adhesive will retain the filling itself without the need for any type of drilling," said Dentist Andre Ritter, DDS, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The structure of the tooth is preserved and the area that was once exposed is protected from decay and further erosion.

"Ultimately you can lose the tooth or parts of it if you don't treat," said Ritter.

"I just take the advice of my dentist," Joyner said.

This time the advice gave him something to really smile about.

While some dentists have already been using the adhesive technique to repair gum line defects, the UNC study is an effort to get it officially approved by the American Dental Association.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Ginger Cole
Clinical Project Coordinator
Operative Dentistry Research Program
University of North Carolina
419F Brauer Hall, CB #7450
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7450
(919) 966-5237

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