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Gum Recession Explained

Gums play a vital role in your dental health and function. They protect the inner parts of your teeth from bacterial exposure. Unfortunately, about 47% of adults have some form of gum diseases. One most common problem is receding gums. Read on to know more about this condition.

What Is Gingival Recession?

A gingival recession occurs when the gum wears off and pulls away from the tooth, exposing the roots. As the gums recede, air pockets form between the tooth and gum, creating a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. The exposed roots are highly vulnerable to infections and injuries, which break down the bone beneath. If left untreated, it could cause teeth loss. Recessed gums also make your teeth appear longer, affecting your appearance.

After the gum erosion, your teeth become super sensitive to hot and cold food. Plaque may also accumulate on the exposed roots creating root carries that lead to bad breath. Some common signs of recessed gums include:

  • Red, swollen gums
  • Tender bleeding gums
  • Bad breathe
  • Difficulty in chewing
  • Loose teeth

What Causes Receding Gums?

Plaque accumulation is one leading cause of gum recession. If you fail to clean your teeth properly, food particles accumulate and form a bacteria film which weakens the gums and causes them to recede. Aggressively brushing your teeth leads to gum damage, tooth wear, and recession. Tissue destructions from periodontal diseases also weaken the gums and cause them to fall back from the teeth.

People with thinner gums are more susceptible to gingival recession. For those with crowded teeth and a small jawline, the persistent pressure on the gum can cause it to recede. Tooth eruption weakens the gum tissues making them more prone to recession. Hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, menopause, or using contraceptives can also make your gums more susceptible to recession.

Regularly grinding and clenching your teeth deepens pockets between teeth and gum, encouraging bacterial growth. This results in gum inflammation that worsens recession. With age, the gum tissues and alveolar bone starts to wear off, exposing the teeth to bacteria and causes receding gums. If you sustain a gum injury during a fall, dental procedure, or due to wearing ill-fitted dentures, your gums may recede. Smoking tobacco leads to the formation of a sticky plaque that eats away the gum line till it begins to pull away from the teeth.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Once you visit a dentist due to gum problems, they will perform a physical test and measure the gum pockets to test for gingival recession. Receding gums won’t grow naturally, but you can seek treatment to restore the tissues and prevent more recession. Based on the extent of the damage, your dentist may advise that you consider any of the following treatment methods.

Proper Dental Care

Your dentist may suggest that you switch to a soft or electric toothbrush with a force detector to minimize gum injuries. They may also recommend changing your toothpaste if you use an abrasive one. You will need to visit the dentist regularly to clean your teeth.

Root Planing

The dentist may opt to deep clean the gums to remove tartar and plaque on the root surface for mild receding gums. They then apply an antibiotic gel on the surface to kill hard-to-reach germs. The dentist will also smoothen the exposed part of the root to prevent bacteria from attaching themselves, protecting the teeth from infection. Smoothing also helps the tooth reattach to the gums. In some cases, dentists also apply composite resins to close gaps between teeth, cover the root surface, and prevent more damage.


In case of teeth infection, the dentist administers some oral antibiotics to kill the bacteria. They may also prescribe antimicrobial mouthwash or enzyme suppressants.


If root planing fails to work due to excess bone loss or extremely deep pockets, you might have to go for surgery. The common surgical procedures for receding gums are:

•  Open Flap Scaling

This procedure involves making a small incision between the affected gum and teeth. The dentist then removes the inflamed gum tissue, cleans the area, and applies some antibiotics. They then snugly secure the gum tissue over the root to reduce the pockets.

•  Bone Regeneration

In case of bone or gum tissue loss, you undergo regenerative surgery. The dentist applies an aesthetic and then makes a small incision in the gums. They clean the infected area and add a piece of bone or tissue to boost your body’s natural ability to regenerate bones.

•  Soft Tissue Grafting

If the receding gums cause excess tissue loss, the dentist may recommend a grafting procedure. It involves cutting a flap skin from the roof of your mouth or any other part of your gum and stitching it around the exposed tooth.

•  Pinhole Surgical Technique

This is a minimally invasive procedure that treats mild to moderate receding gums. The dentist uses a special instrument to make a hole into your gum tissues around the exposed tooth. They then stretch the gum into a more suitable position on the tooth and introduce collagen material to stabilize the gum area.

How to Prevent Gingival Recession

One of the best ways to prevent gingival recession is by applying gentle strokes while brushing your teeth. After two to four months, replace your toothbrush and see a dentist for biannual cleaning to remove tartar. The dentist can spot early signs of recession during checkups and fix the issue before it becomes a major problem. Quit smoking, floss your teeth daily and eat a well-balanced diet. Increase your fruits and vegetable intake since they decrease bacterial growth and plaque formation. Inform your dentists of any changes in your mouth. Also, treat issues like misaligned bites and teeth grinding early enough.

The Bottom Line

If you notice signs of receding gums, visit your dentist immediately for evaluation. They will recommend the best cause of action based on the recession’s severity. You can prevent most gum problems by maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping up with your dental checks.

See also – Cosmetic Dental Procedure

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