Gum recession is when the gum tissue around your teeth pulls back, exposing more of the tooth. You may not even notice gum recession at first because it’s painless. However, gum recession can lead to serious issues like cavities, cold and hot sensitivity, and even tooth loss if left untreated.
Why do gums recede?
The short answer is that gums recede due either an infection or from brushing trauma. Plaque is the sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth and irritates the gums. If plaque isn’t removed, it hardens and becomes tartar, which can only be removed with specialized tools by a dentist or hygienist.
If plaque buildup continues, it leads to an infection called gingivitis. Gums are red and inflamed and may bleed easily when brushing and flossing. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, which damages the bones around the teeth and potentially causes gum recession as the support is eaten away.
Gum recession is commonly caused by the following:
- Gum disease, also called periodontal disease. This infection of your teeth’s supporting tissues is one of the primary causes of receding gums.
- Poor oral hygiene.
- Brushing too hard with a toothbrush that has firm bristles. Scrubbing hard at your teeth can damage the delicate gum tissue, causing it to recede over time.
- Misaligned teeth that are harder to properly clean with a brush or floss. Teeth that don’t meet evenly when biting down can make it difficult to clean away germs and food particles trapped in these spaces, resulting in plaque buildup and eventual gum disease.
Other causes of gum recession include:
- Ill-fitting removable dentures, crown or bridgework.
What are the symptoms of receding gums?
Many people aren’t aware that their gums have receded until the problem has become serious. If you have any of the following symptoms, you may have receding gums:
- Blood on your toothbrush after brushing.
- Pain when chewing (or a toothache).
- Gum tissue that appears pulled back from the teeth.
- Exposed roots that appear yellow or gray and may feel sensitive to heat and cold.
- Teeth that are loose and feel like they are getting longer.
- A notched or pointed appearance at the gum line.
- Gaps developing between your teeth.
How can gum recession be prevented?
These are some of the best ways to help prevent gum recession.
- Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, and floss at least once a day. Brushing helps remove plaque from your tooth surfaces and gums, while flossing removes plaque between the teeth and under the gumline.
- Use a soft-bristled brush. Medium or hard bristles can damage your gums as you brush, causing recession over time.
- See your dentist or hygienist for dental cleanings twice a year (or more often if necessary). The dental team can use specialized tools to help remove plaque buildup in hard-to-reach areas where brushing and flossing alone can’t reach, preventing disease at its source. They may also provide fluoride treatments that strengthen tooth enamel and reduce the risk of receding gums. The dentist can see initial recession issues and intervene before it becomes a serious problem.
- Consider using an alcohol-free antiseptic mouthwash that kills bacteria in the mouth, reducing inflammation within the gum tissue (usually caused by bacteria).
Periodontal Services for Healthy Gums
Dr. M. Gordon and his staff at Progressive Periodontics and Implant Dentistry offer periodontal services to treat gum recession and provide ongoing maintenance. Call 732-389-3400 for our Eatontown office or 732-364-2025 for our Howell office to book a consultation or request an appointment online. We look forward to helping you maintain your oral health.