Receding gums

Receding gums can be scary, even uncomfortable. It is important to know that there are a number of factors that can cause your gums to recede. Let’s try to understand why it happens and what you can do about it.


Once it was thought it is inevitable to get “long in the tooth”. However this is far from the truth. It is a disease process, and indicates a current or prior periodontal (gum) disease. Teeth are designed to last a lifetime, with attention to proper oral hygiene, diet and dental care — they should.

Let’s start with what’s normal. In a healthy situation teeth erupt into the mouth with the roots fully centered in, and surrounded by jawbone. The gum tissues behave almost like an investing curtain covering the bone; they surround the necks of the teeth like the collar of a turtleneck sweater.

In addition to periodontal disease caused by dental (bacterial) plaque, the three most common factors that contribute to gum recession are: the position of your teeth, your genetics, and trauma.

Tooth Position. If a tooth erupts in a position that is not aligned within the dental arch, this means thinner bone covering one side of the tooth. Thin bone usually end up with receding gum line. This is also important when moving teeth with braces. Tooth movement via braces will cause bone resorption that will be followed by gum recession.

Genetics. Gum texture is genetic. Some types of gums are thin and prone to receding easier than thick gums.

Trauma. This happens with overzealous brushing, using too rough a toothbrush, or using a bad technique with scrubbing instead of gently brushing.

Periodontal disease. Once a layer of bacteria is formed on the tooth structure, the germs start attacking the tissues including the gums and later on the bone if they access to it.


The recession as such can be treated by surgery, where the gum is pulled to cover the exposed tooth. However, the underlying cause needs to be determined before treating the recession. If the cause is not managed, any treatment will fail and the gums will reced again.



Prevention of gum recession is very important. Treating a receding gum can be difficult. Make sure you use the right brush and use it properly.

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