What Causes Receding Gums?


Receding gums is a relatively common oral health issue. Also known as gum recession, this condition occurs when the gums which surround the teeth wear away, pull back, or retract from the tooth. If left untreated, this can cause a variety of problems including loose teeth, misaligned teeth, and lost teeth. There are many possible causes for receding gums, and some treatments are available. Let’s take a look at receding gums, what causes them, and how you can prevent them.

Causes of Receding Gums

Receding gums have a variety of potential causes, with gum disease being the most common. Gum disease like gingivitis often leads to the buildup of bacteria in and under the gumline. This can lead to plaque and tartar buildup–two sticky white substances composed of the bacteria, their waste, and food debris trapped in the mouth. This invasive buildup can irritate the gums, causing infection and leading to the gums receding. 

There are other causes of receding gums. Sometimes dental or orthodontic prosthetics like braces can irritate the gums, causing them to recede. Tobacco use is also linked to receding gums, as a change in hormone levels. Another common cause is improper brushing technique. Not brushing frequently enough can lead to bacteria buildup, while brushing too hard or with too stiff a brush can irritate the gums, causing them to recede. Your dentist can tell you more about the causes of your receding gums and how to treat them. 

Symptoms of Receding Gums

There are many ways in which receding gums can manifest, so it is important to know the most common symptoms. If you persistently experience any of the following, it’s time to see your dentist get an exam and discuss treatment options:

  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums, or gums which are sensitive to the touch.
  • Teeth appear to be growing longer, often with a notch forming in the gum by the roots.
  • Exposed roots on either or both sides of the tooth.
  • Loose teeth or teeth which appear to be shifting around.

These are some of the most obvious signs of receding gums, and a clear indication that professional treatment is needed. 

Treating Receding Gums

There are a variety of treatment options for receding gums. If the gums haven’t receded too far, a deep cleaning of your teeth and gums combined with some changes in habits and lifestyle may be enough to correct the issue. Treating the cause is the main thing in this case, and your dentist may employ several possible treatments for gum disease, ranging from more frequent cleanings and more appropriate brushing and flossing habits to a course of antibiotics. 

If the damage has progressed far enough, gum surgery may be necessary. An endodontist or dental surgeon will take a gum graft to replace the existing tissue where the gums have receded too far. This is a fairly straightforward procedure in most cases, but it’s not the preferred option.

The best way to treat receding gums is by preventing them from occurring in the first place. This involves caring for your overall oral health by maintaining good brushing and flossing habits, eating a healthy diet, avoiding tobacco, and regular dental exams and cleanings. An ounce of prevention is, in this case, worth far more than a pound of cure. If you’re overdue for a cleaning, worried about receding gums, or just need a dental exam, get in touch today and make an appointment. We’ll help you find the best road to long-term oral health.