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What are receding gums and how is gingival recession treated?

02 December · 3 minutes

Gums play a very important role in protecting our teeth. Receding gums can not only make us feel uncomfortable with our smile, but also increase our tooth sensitivity and can lead to more serious problems.

Here we tell you more about what gum recession is, how it occurs, the consequences it can cause and how to treat it.

What are receding gums or gingival recession?

Gum recession, also known as gingival recession, is the weakening of the tissue that makes up the gums. This causes their volume to be reduced and, therefore, the root of the teeth becomes more exposed. Although it is very common, we should not ignore it, since if not treated correctly, it can lead to gingival disorders or the permanent loss of some teeth.

A dentist pointing to the receding gums of a patient

What causes gum recession?

Gum recession causes are varied and include genetic inheritance, hormonal behaviour, due to bad habits... These are some of the most frequent causes that can lead to receding gums:

Periodontitis and receding gums

Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums and is caused by an accumulation of bacterial plaque around and under the gums. If not treated properly it can lead to an infection called periodontitis. Both can damage the tissues and bones that support the teeth.

Receding gums from brushing too hard

Not brushing our teeth, brushing too hard or using brushes that are too hard can damage our gums and therefore cause them to recede and increase our tooth sensitivity.

Teeth grinding and gum recession

If we suffer from bruxism - clenching or grinding our teeth too hard - we exert too much force on our gums which will eventually weaken them.

Hormones and gum recession

Hormonal changes that occur during adolescence or even during pregnancy or menopause can increase the sensitivity of the gums and cause them to recede.

Genetic gum recession

Some people have a genetic predisposition that can lead to gingival weakness and receding gums for no apparent reason.

Smoking causing gum recession?

Smoking is also detrimental to our oral health. Tobacco smoke causes plaque to build up on the teeth and affects our immune system, favouring possible periodontal diseases.

Tongue piercing and gum recession

Sometimes, piercings in the mouth can cause gingival recession. The gums become irritated and are more prone to wear and tear, which can lead to gum recession.

A man checking for receding gums

Receding gum symptoms

Signs of receding gums can vary hugely, depending on the person and the degree to which the problem has arrived. There are many symptoms caused by receding gums. Signs of gum recession include:

  • Halitosis: Gum recession can cause bad breath due to the accumulation of bacteria in the dental plaque.
  • Red and swollen gums: The natural colour of your gums should be pink. Red or swollen gums are a sign of possible infection.
  • Sensitivity to temperature changes: Hypersensitivity to hot or cold foods is a clear symptom of unhealthy gums.
  • Bleeding during brushing: Bleeding gums during brushing means there is inflammation and should be treated.
  • Spacing between teeth or loose teeth: Due to receding gums, interdental spaces or changes in the bite may be seen, as the way the teeth fit together in the jaws is altered.
  • Tooth loss: The most serious cases may result in the loss of some teeth.

Receding gums treatment

How to stop receding gums? If any of the above symptoms appear, the most important thing to do is to see a specialist. An early consultation will help to solve the problem and your dentist should be able to offer potential ideas about how to treat receding gums.

There are different treatments for receding gums, such as gum grafting, among others, which the specialist will assess depending on the degree of the pathology and the characteristics of the patient.

A dentist demonstrating a model of receding gums

How to prevent receding gums?

Prevention is undoubtedly the best way to maintain healthy gums. There are many ways to prevent receding gums, which include healthy oral hygiene habits, avoiding brushing too rough, choosing a good soft or medium toothbrush and renewing it every two or three months is essential for the correct cleaning and protection of our mouth.

Another piece of advice commonly handed out when patients want to know how to prevent gum recession, is having your teeth professionally cleaned at least once a year. This will help us to remove accumulated tartar and bacterial plaque whilst controling the health of our gums.

Gingival recession and orthodontic treatments

People prone to gingival recession and considering treatment might ask themselves, "can orthodontic treatment cause gum recession?". Gingival recession and orthodontic treatment are not mutually exclusive. However, while there is not a direct relation between using braces and developing receding gums, fixed orthodontics can make it difficult to clean the mouth and the infections that occur if complete hygiene is not maintained can cause gum recession.

On the other hand, it is important to clarify that the use of orthodontics is not a solution to receding gums. However, with removable orthodontics, not only is it possible to maintain better oral hygiene, but we can also digitally plan each case and minimise the risk of recession increasing.

A dentist fitting aligners on a patient

At Impress we are specialists with more than 15 years of experience in invisible orthodontics. We use state-of-the-art technology in our clear aligners to offer our patients the best results.

If you want to smile again and have a healthy mouth you can contact us by email at: uk@smile2impress.com, by phone/WhatsApp at +44 20 3808 1072 or make an appointment online on our website.

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Frequently asked questions about gum recession

How to tell if your gums are receding?

If you notice swollen gums, changes in colour or bad breath, it may be that your gums are receding. We recommend that you see a specialist.

How to deal with gum recession?

When you notice any symptoms, such as those we have explained in this article, see a professional. Acting in time is essential to prevent further damage and solve the problem.

How to repair receding gums?

Each case has its own symptomatology and there are different degrees. There are numerous non-surgical treatments. Your dentist will carry out tests and will help you find the solution that best suits your needs. However, there is a range of surgical options such as gum grafts and gum surgery which may be used in severe cases.

Is gum recession common?

In short, yes. Gum recession is common yet most people are not aware of this due to the gradual nature of receding gums. Most of the time, if the gums aren’t causing any problem, there is no need for treatment. Although those who are concerned should visit their dentist.

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