Understanding Gum Recession: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention.

Receding gums, or gingival recession, is a common dental condition where the gum tissue pulls away from the tooth, exposing more of the tooth's root, often leading to sensitivity and an altered smile line.

Understanding Gum Recession


Gum recession, also known as gingival recession, is the process where the gums surrounding the teeth begin to shrink or pull away from the tooth's surface. This can result in the exposure of the tooth's root and may lead to various dental and oral health concerns.

Causes of Receding Gums

Gum Disease:

The most common cause of gum recession is periodontal disease (gum disease). Inflammation and infection weaken and destroy the gum tissue, leading to recession.

Aggressive Toothbrushing:

Brushing teeth with excessive force or using a hard-bristle toothbrush can contribute to gum tissue erosion.

Inadequate Dental Care:

Poor oral hygiene practices, including infrequent brushing and flossing, can lead to the accumulation of dental plaque and tartar, increasing the risk of gum recession.

Tobacco Use:

Smoking or chewing tobacco can contribute to gum disease and exacerbate gum recession.

Hormonal Changes:

Fluctuations in hormones, such as those during pregnancy, menopause, and puberty, can make gums more sensitive and prone to recession.


Genetic predisposition may make some individuals more susceptible to gum recession.

Misaligned Teeth:

Teeth that are not properly aligned or a misaligned bite can place excessive force on certain areas of the gums, leading to recession.

Signs and Symptoms of Gum Recession

Exposed Tooth Roots:

The most obvious sign of gum recession is the exposure of the tooth's root, which can make teeth appear longer.

Tooth Sensitivity:

Increased sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, especially when consuming hot or cold foods or beverages.

Notching at the Gumline:

A "V" shape or notch may appear at the gumline of affected teeth.

Loose Teeth:

In advanced cases, gum recession can lead to tooth mobility or loosening.

Changes in Tooth Alignment:

Gaps between teeth or changes in tooth alignment can occur due to gum recession.

Treatment for Gum Recession

Scaling and Root Planing:

If gum recession is associated with periodontal disease, treatment may include scaling and root planing to remove plaque and tartar and promote gum healing.

Gum Grafting:

In cases of severe gum recession, a periodontist may perform a gum grafting procedure, where tissue from another part of the mouth or a donor source is transplanted to cover exposed tooth roots.

Orthodontic Treatment:

Correcting misaligned teeth with orthodontic treatment can alleviate the pressure on the gums and prevent further recession.

Behavioral Changes:

Adjusting oral hygiene habits, such as using a soft-bristle toothbrush and gentle brushing, is essential.

Tobacco Cessation:

Quitting smoking and tobacco use can help prevent further gum recession.

Complications of Gum Recession

Tooth Sensitivity:

Gum recession can lead to increased tooth sensitivity, making it uncomfortable to consume hot or cold foods and beverages.

Tooth Mobility:

In advanced cases, gum recession may result in tooth mobility or loosening.

Aesthetic Concerns:

Gum recession can cause aesthetic concerns, as it can make teeth appear longer and create gaps between teeth.

Increased Risk of Tooth Decay:

Exposed tooth roots are more susceptible to decay and cavities.

Frequently Asked Questions about Gum Recession

1. What is gum recession?

Answer: Gum recession is the process in which the margin of the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth wears away or pulls back, exposing more of the tooth or the tooth's root.

2. What causes gum recession?

Answer: Causes include periodontal diseases, aggressive tooth brushing, insufficient dental care, hormonal changes, tobacco use, bruxism (teeth grinding), and genetic predisposition.

3. Can gum recession be reversed?

Answer: Gum recession cannot be reversed naturally, but treatments such as gum grafts can restore gum tissue and protect exposed roots.

4. Is gum recession common?

Answer: Yes, gum recession is fairly common and can occur gradually, so it's important to have regular dental check-ups to detect it early.

5. What are the signs of gum recession?

Answer: Signs include longer-looking teeth, visible roots, tooth sensitivity, inflamed or bleeding gums, and loose teeth.

6. How is gum recession diagnosed?

Answer: Dentists diagnose gum recession through visual examination and measuring the depth of the gum pockets around the teeth.

7. Can brushing too hard cause gum recession?

Answer: Yes, brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can contribute to gum recession by wearing away gum tissue.

8. Is gum recession a sign of gum disease?

Answer: Gum recession is often a sign of gum disease (periodontitis), but it can also occur in the absence of gum disease due to mechanical or traumatic factors.

9. How can gum recession affect oral health?

Answer: Gum recession can lead to increased sensitivity, higher risk of tooth decay, aesthetic concerns, and if severe, tooth loss.

10. What treatments are available for gum recession?

Answer: Treatments include scaling and root planing, gum graft surgery, and in some cases, regenerative procedures to stimulate growth of new gum tissue.

11. Can gum recession cause tooth loss?

Answer: Yes, if left untreated, gum recession can lead to severe periodontal disease and tooth loss.

12. How can I prevent gum recession?

Answer: Prevent gum recession by maintaining good oral hygiene, using a soft-bristled toothbrush, avoiding tobacco, and getting regular dental check-ups.

13. Are there any natural remedies for gum recession?

Answer: While good oral hygiene and a healthy lifestyle can help prevent further recession, there are no proven natural remedies to reverse gum recession.

14. How does smoking affect gum recession?

Answer: Smoking can accelerate gum recession by affecting the blood supply to the gum tissue and promoting the development of periodontal disease.

15. Can misaligned teeth lead to gum recession?

Answer: Yes, misaligned teeth can contribute to gum recession by putting extra pressure on gums and bone, leading to their gradual retreat.

16. What is a gum graft?

Answer: A gum graft is a surgical procedure where tissue is taken from another part of the mouth (often the palate) and attached to the area affected by gum recession to protect exposed roots and reduce further recession.

17. How long does it take to recover from gum graft surgery?

Answer: Recovery from gum graft surgery typically takes a few weeks, with most patients being able to return to normal activities within a day or two.

18. Will insurance cover treatment for gum recession?

Answer: Many dental insurance plans cover treatments for gum recession, especially if the procedure is deemed medically necessary. However, coverage varies, so check with your provider.

19. Is gum recession painful?

Answer: Gum recession itself may not be painful, but it can lead to tooth sensitivity and discomfort due to exposed tooth roots.

20. Can a deep cleaning stop gum recession?

Answer: Deep cleaning (scaling and root planing) can help manage gum disease and prevent further recession by cleaning below the gumline and removing plaque and tartar buildup.

21. What are the risks of untreated gum recession?

Answer: Untreated gum recession can lead to severe sensitivity, increased risk of decay, aesthetic issues, and eventual tooth loss.

22. Can aggressive flossing cause gum recession?

Answer: Yes, aggressive or improper flossing can damage the gum tissue, contributing to recession.

23. How does age affect gum recession?

Answer: Gum recession can become more prevalent with age due to a lifetime of wear and tear, as well as the natural weakening of gum tissue.

24. Can vitamin deficiencies cause gum recession?

Answer: While not a direct cause, vitamin deficiencies, particularly Vitamin C deficiency, can weaken gum tissue and contribute to overall gum health issues, including recession.

25. How effective are gum grafts in treating gum recession?

Answer: Gum grafts are highly effective in treating gum recession, protecting exposed roots, and improving the aesthetic appearance of the gum line, with a high success rate in most patients.