Gum recession: what causes it and what you can do about it

By: Dental Holistix

One common issue that can undermine your dental health and the aesthetics of your smile is gum recession. If you’ve noticed your gums slowly retracting from your teeth, revealing more of your tooth’s root, it’s important to understand the causes and solutions for this.

What causes gum recession?

To tackle gum recession effectively, let’s start by looking at some of its causes

Aggressive brushing
Vigorous brushing with a hard-bristle toothbrush can wear down the gumline over time

Inadequate dental hygiene
Neglecting your oral health allows plaque and calculus to accumulate. Heavy bacterial loads and its byproducts cause inflammation around your gums, undermining the gum attachment to the tooth and leading to recession.

Gum disease
Periodontal disease or periodontitis is where the inflammation in your gums start to erode away the underlying bone, further breaking down support for the tooth. This is a leading culprit in gum recession. Initial stages can be reversible, however if left too long the damage can be irreversible.

Prolonged acid exposure around the delicate attachment of the gums to the teeth will exacerbate loss of attachment and gum recession. This could be from Gastric reflux (which may be “silent” or asymptomatic) or from the diet e.g. lemon juice, carbonated drinks, soft drinks.

Clenching or grinding habits
This causes high build up of pressure around the necks of the teeth. These internal stresses cause flexion of the tooth and chipping of the thin enamel coating away from the underlying yellow dentine. This can also lead to excessive strain on the ligament holding the tooth into the bone and breakdown of the supporting attachment.

Genetic predisposition
Some individuals have thinner gum tissues due to genetics, making them more susceptible to recession.

Tobacco use
Smoking and other tobacco products harm your gums, increasing their vulnerability to recession.

Hormonal changes
Hormonal fluctuations, especially in women during pregnancy or menopause, can exacerbate the body’s immune response against bacteria around the gumline and render gums more sensitive and prone to recession.

What can you do about it?

The encouraging news is that gum recession doesn’t have to be a permanent concern. There are effective steps you can take to address the issue and restore your healthy smile:

– Maintaining excellent oral hygiene is your first line of defence in order to reduce inflammation of the gums. Gently brush your teeth with a soft-bristle toothbrush and make flossing a regular habit to eliminate plaque and food particles.

– Regular dental check-ups and soft tissue management (hygiene treatment)  are your best allies. Our dental experts can remove hardened plaque (tartar/calculus) that standard brushing can’t eliminate.

– Manage gum disease. If gum disease is the root cause, our dentists will suggest appropriate treatments to halt its progression and improve your gum health.

– Choose a gentler toothbrush. Opt for a toothbrush with soft bristles to prevent further damage to your gumline.

– Modify your diet if necessary to reduce excessive acidity. When you do eat or drink acidic foods do this over a short period and rinse with water or an acid neutralising mouthwash. Ask your dentist about signs/symptoms of acid reflux and possibly get a referral to an Ear Nose and Throat Specialist regarding this.

– If you think you might have a clenching or grinding habit, ask your dentist to help determine how severely this is affecting your teeth and gums and discuss options.

– In advanced cases, gum graft surgery may be recommended. This treatment involves taking a small amount of tissue from another part of your mouth (usually the thicker gum on the palate) and attaching it to the receding area to cover the exposed root.

– If you smoke, consider quitting for the sake of your oral health. It can significantly slow or prevent further gum recession.

Early detection and proactive steps are key to addressing gum recession. If you notice any signs of receding gums or experience tooth sensitivity, reach out to our team promptly for a comprehensive evaluation.

At Dental Holistix, we’re here to support your journey to improved oral health. Our team of experienced dental professionals can offer advice and cutting-edge treatments to help you combat gum recession and regain your confident smile. 

Book in for a consultation with Dr Nick Williams

Dr Nick Williams, our expert specialising in gum recession and advanced gum graft surgery, is ready to guide you towards effective solutions for your unique gum recession concerns.

Book Now