You may be getting a little long in the tooth, someone may say, but you’ve still got spirit. “Long in the tooth” is a metaphor describing people who are getting a little older, and it’s usually used in either a mildly ribbing sense or to praise your continued ability.
Although it’s a metaphor, it’s sometimes literally true, as receding gums can make your teeth look longer.
The Origins of the Phrase
“Long in the tooth” comes from the method of gauging a horse’s age by its teeth. In attempting to tell the age of a horse, people looked at the horse’s incisors, which can tell the age by their state of wear, their shape, and their angle.
As horse age, their teeth tend to angle outward. Since the space between the upper and lower jaws remains relatively constant, this can make the teeth look longer. Horse’s teeth can also look longer as they may begin to wear on the sides, becoming narrower and creating spaces between them.
Why Your Teeth Look Longer
For people, this kind of angling of teeth is uncommon, although it’s actually quite common for people to experience teeth that look longer with age. This is due to receding gums. As bacteria colonize around your gumline, their acidic excretions hurt your gums just as they can damage your teeth.
The first signs of periodontal disease are red, swollen gums that may bleed. You will develop deeper pockets around your teeth at first. You may not notice this, but soon you will see signs that your gums are receding. Your teeth will look longer, and you’ll be able to see the line where your tooth enamel–the more naturally white part of your teeth–transitions into cementum–a darker material that is supposed to be below your gumline.
You also likely have more tooth sensitivity when this happens because cementum doesn’t protect as well against temperature changes.
Get Your Gums Back without Surgery
The good news is that your gum tissue can always grow back, with a little help. We offer a receding gums treatment that can pull your gums back up to a healthy position on your teeth and allow them to heal there. You will protect your teeth, your jawbone, and your appearance.
To learn more about this new procedure, please contact us today for an appointment.