Why Do Gums Recede?

Dental Examination

When you consider your oral health, you probably think about your teeth, but your gums are actually equally important. Your gum tissue helps hold your teeth in proper position, circulates blood throughout your mouth, and much more. Unfortunately, many people don’t take good care of their gums. Without proper treatment, your gums can begin to recede, or gradually shrink away from your teeth. Gum recession can affect the overall appearance of your smile, make your teeth more sensitive, lead to infection, and put you at risk for other oral conditions. Dr. Cindy Flanagan and our Houston dental team are here to help you with symptoms such as gum recession so you can enjoy a happier, healthier, more comfortable mouth. In the following blog, we go over the basics of gum recession, explain why they recede, and describe our treatment options.

Gum Recession 101

Your gum tissue is supposed to cushion a certain portion of your teeth. Your gums cover the roots of your teeth, providing a layer of protection for the nerves. If this tissue shifts away from where it is supposed to be on the tooth, this is called recession. ‘Gum recession’ is the process in which the edge or point in which gum tissue meets the tooth, shifts towards the jaw showing more and more of the tooth. So as the gums and what surrounds the teeth wears away, or pulls back, it reveals more of the tooth, and/or its root.

Since gum recession typically occurs subtly over many years, patients often don’t notice it happening, or, if they do, they might not think it is a particularly serious issue. However, recession can lead to the creation of gingival pockets, which can worsen infections and even destabilize your teeth. Sadly, gum recession is quite common. A study published in the Journal of Applied Oral Science noted, “Gingival recession was observed in at least one dental surface in about 89 percent of the individuals analyzed.” This indicates that most adults suffer from gum recession.


Your gums may be receding if you:

  • Notice that your gums look smaller or your teeth look larger in any area of your mouth.
  • Have sensitive teeth, particularly at the roots (the upper portion for your upper jaw and lower portion for your lower jaw).
  • Have pockets of gum tissue forming around your teeth as they pull away.
  • Feel or see your gums swelling or becoming discolored (particularly if they become darker or red).
  • Have trouble brushing your teeth, flossing, or eating because your gum tissue aches.

If you notice any of the above, we recommend that you call our Houston dental practice and schedule an appointment with Dr. Flanagan soon.

Reasons for Recession

Knowing what causes this condition can help you prevent, spot, and treat it for a healthier mouth. Some common factors include:

  • Oral hygiene. Taking care of your teeth and gums is an everyday responsibility. Failing to brush and floss your teeth properly can lead to recession. Most of us know it’s not good to skip your daily dental regimen, but you might not realize that brushing incorrectly can also put you at risk for recession. WebMD advises, “If you brush your teeth too hard or the wrong way, it can cause the enamel on your teeth to wear away and your gums to recede.”
  • Gum disease. The same bacteria that cause cavities can also infect your gums. The early stage of this disorder is called gingivitis, while the more advanced form is periodontitis. Gum disease can degrade your gum tissue and, if allowed to progress, cause your gums to recede and pockets to form. Left untreated, gum disease can even lead to tooth loss.
  • Orthodontic issues. If your teeth sit at improper angles, this can be hard on your gums. WebMD describes, “When teeth do not come together evenly, too much force can be place don the gums and bone, allowing gums to recede.”
  • Tobacco use. As if you needed another reason not to smoke or chew tobacco, these habits also harm your gum tissue and can lead to recession.
  • Bruxism. WebMD notes, “Clenching or grinding your teeth can put too much force on the teeth, causing gums to recede.” This condition, called bruxism, can cause a variety of issues, weakening your entire mouth.

These are just a few of the potential culprits for gum recession. All of the above can cause not only this condition, but many other oral health issues, so it is important to treat them.

How We Can Help

At your biannual preventive care appointments, Dr. Flanagan will examine your gums to determine if you suffer from recession. If you do, we will help you pinpoint the cause and treat it accordingly. For example, we can create a custom-made mouth guard to help with bruxism, teach you better oral hygiene techniques, and provide Invaslign® straightening treatments to remedy minor orthodontic issues. If your recession is particularly advanced, we may need to perform more advanced treatments, such root planing and scaling, or refer you to an appropriate specialist to assist you.

Are Your Gums Receding?

Dr. Flanagan can help you find out and treat your condition if you do. Contact our Houston dental practice today to find out more and schedule an appointment.

Original Source: https://flanagansmiles.com/restorations/gums-recede/

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