Most Common reasons for gum recession

Patients often ask during their dental visits “Why are my gums shrinking?” Gum recession can cause unpleasant symptoms such as sensitivity to hot and cold, when eating or drinking. Also, areas where gums have receded leaving the roots exposed appear darker and cannot be whitened since the roots of teeth lack the white layer of enamel.  Listed below are some of the most common reasons for gum recession.

healthy gums

Aggressive tooth-brushing habits

Brushing with a medium or hard bristled toothbrush does more harm than good. A medium or hard-bristled toothbrush can wear away tooth enamel and damage gums. I always remind my heavy handed patients that the goal of brushing your teeth is to remove the plaque away, not your enamel. It’s very important to brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush in a gentle motion or brushing with an electric toothbrush without pressing aggressively along the gum line. The bristles should be pointed at 45 degree angle to gently remove the plaque from under the gums.

Tooth Brush Abrasion

Tooth Brush Abrasion

Grinding/Clenching habits

Grinding and clenching your teeth can cause irreversible damage to both your teeth and gums.  Teeth slowly get ground down and become shorter.  While the pressure from teeth grinding is transmitted down to the gums causing them to recede. Wearing an NTI appliance or any well-fitting night guard can prevent further damage to your teeth and gums.

teeth grinding

Lip/tongue piercing

Constant irritation or impact from a lip or tongue piercing can cause the gums to recede exposing the roots underneath. Teeth can even become mobile from the constant collision with this type of jewelry.

piercing

Crowding or Misalignment of teeth

Overcrowding or misalignment of the teeth leads to excessive pressure place on a specific tooth or teeth. In turn, the gums surrounding this tooth will start to thin out. If crowding/ misalignment of the teeth are to blame for gum recession, then you should consider speaking with your dentist regarding the different orthodontic treatments available to straighten your smile.

crowded teeth

Smoking Cigarettes

Sticky plaque from tobacco products not only causes staining, but is one of the main causes for gum disease. One more reason to add to list for quitting smoking in the near future.

broken cigarette

Inadequate oral hygiene

Everyone should be brushing twice a day for two to three minutes and flossing nightly. Seeing a dentist at least twice a year for a routine dental cleaning is recommended to remove plaque build-up.  High levels of bacterial plaque and tartar/calculus buildup can lead to destruction of gums, bones, and ligaments that are essential for supporting your teeth. In addition, plaque build-up under the gums is a major factor causing periodontal disease. It’s important to stop the progression of periodontal disease by eliminating plaque buildup to prevent further gum recession. Systemic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes have also been linked to periodontal disease.

plaque tartar

Family Genetics

Thin, fragile gum tissues can run in the family and may be passed down to future generations. People with thin gums are high risk for gum recession. Regular dental visits can prevent future damage which can save you headaches and money in the long run.

genetics

Suzanna Chen RDH