What is Gum Recession?

Gum recession is a condition in which the gums start to recede or pull away from your teeth – exposing the underlying root surface. The primary cause of gum recession is underlying periodontal disease. However, it can also occur in individuals who have good oral health. 

What is the Effect of Gum Recession on your Oral Health?

Gum recession can affect your oral health in three different ways:

  • Sensitivity – the outer covering of tooth roots, the cementum, is weaker than the enamel which covers the tooth crowns. When gum recession occurs, the cementum layer of the roots is lost quickly, leaving the underlying sensitive layers, dentin and the pulp, exposed. As a result, teeth that have gums that have receded become sensitive to hot or cold drinks and foods. 
  • Aesthetic Concerns – when gums recede from their position, the teeth appear excessively long and negatively affect the smile and facial aesthetics. 
  • Root Cavities – as a result of gum recession, the root surface becomes prone to the development of cavities. 

What are the Causes of Gum Recession?

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the gum recession can occur due to a variety of reasons:

  • Untreated, long-standing periodontal disease 
  • Using excessive force while brushing teeth – causing trauma to the gums
  • Using a toothbrush with hard bristles 
  • Injury to the gum tissues caused by excessive use of toothpicks
  • Genetics – some people are genetically predisposed to a higher risk of developing periodontal problems
  • Smoking and other forms of tobacco use.

How is Gum Recession Managed?

Your dentist will manage gum recession by treating the underlying cause. 

If your gums are receding because you use excessive brushing force or a toothbrush with hard bristles, your dentist will advise you to modify your brushing habits and use a soft toothbrush that does not damage your gums.

If gum recession is because of underlying periodontal disease, your dentist will perform professional teeth cleaning to remove the plaque and tartar deposits from your teeth that cause gum irritation. In advanced cases, your dentist may also perform gum grafting to restore optimal gingival height. After undergoing professional teeth cleaning, you may feel slight tooth sensitivity for a few days. However, there is no need to worry, as it should go away in a few days. 

If gum recession is due to genetic factors, then strict oral hygiene measures can significantly slow down, or even inhibit the process. 

Gum recession not only creates aesthetic problems but can also have a serious impact on your oral health. However, the good news is that gum recession can be easily prevented in most cases. So start taking care of your gums today so that you can enjoy a pearly white smile with healthy teeth and gums.