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When it comes to maintaining a healthy smile, Monique Dana of Dana Dental Arts is all about preventive care.

“It’s rewarding — every day you get to go to work and improve people’s lives,” said Dana who is in her ninth year of dentistry.

One of the many problems that she treats is gum recession.

“Gum recession is when your gums start to move away from your tooth and then your tooth gets longer, and so your tooth ... starts to move upward, so you get longer teeth, you get root sensitivity and more of the tooth gets exposed,” Dana said.

Gum recession can occur as a result of aggressive tooth brushing, using too hard of a toothbrush, teeth clinching or gum disease, Dana said.

Though there are several causes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the main cause of recession is gum disease or periodontal disease. Recent CDC statistics report that 47.2 percent of adults 30 and older have some form of periodontal disease, which increases with age; 70 percent of adults 65 and older have periodontal disease.

According to the CDC, this condition is more common in men, impoverished people, those with less than a high school education and smokers.

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“Sometimes it’s genetic, sometimes it’s diseased-oriented so it can be either or,” said Mary Hengstler, a dental hygienist with West River Periodontics.

There are different ways to treat receding gums, which depends on the cause and the severity of recession, Dana said.

“First, we want to identify the cause so we treat the cause and can slow that process or stop that process, and then we determine what’s the best way for treatment,” Dana said.

Options include adding a night guard for people who grind their teeth, changing toothbrushes and treating periodontal disease if that's what is causing the recession.

“Sometimes, if there’s enough recession, we can’t get it stopped, we can graft tissue and cover those areas of recession — in certain cases that’s an appropriate treatment,” Dana said.

If left untreated periodontal disease and gum disease can cause several health problems, but according to Dana, “Prevention is the key.”

“We’re a preventive practice — anything we can give to you to help you keep your teeth for a lifetime, that’s what we want to do,” Dana said.

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