Gum recession can’t be reversed, but receding gums are preventable. If the signs and symptoms are caught in time, your gums and your smile can be kept in great shape!
In this article, I will attempt to provide some in-depth information about how our gums work and what their purpose is. We’ll discuss possible causes of gum recession and ideas for how to stop receding gums.
What is gum recession?
Over time, a number of factors can lead to receding gums. Gum recession happens when your gum tissue starts to die off and your gum line shrinks higher and higher up the tooth.
Once this happens, small gaps (called “pockets”) open between the gum line and teeth, opening the way for bacteria.
Even a small eruption through gums is dangerous. Once the smallest amounts of bacteria get beyond the barrier of your gums, the body starts working harder to fight infection.
Your gums cannot heal or grow back once you’ve developed a receding gum line. The best way to stop gum recession is to prevent it before it ever starts.
Let’s take a look at how receding gums might start.
Causes and Risk Factors for Receding Gums
Gums recede in many ways, and the cause isn’t always gum disease. For example, grinding your teeth can cause gum recession. Even if your gums aren’t infected, an edema (swollen area of infection) behind the gums can cause them to swell. This happens because there’s an infection or change in the microbiome.
Gum disease causes gums to die off. As gum tissue dies, it shrinks. Bacteria don’t actually “eat away” at gum tissue as some believe.
There are tiny blood vessels in the gums, only matched in size by the fragile vessels in the kidneys. That’s why kidneys and gums both get in trouble when you develop high blood pressure.
Conditions that cause problems with blood flow to tiny blood vessels are:
• High blood pressure
• Heart disease
Secondary causes of gum recession include over-brushing and eating certain foods that wear away gum tissue over time. For example, one bite of sourdough bread or oat bran flakes at the wrong angle can cause damage to gums. Popcorn and super crispy pork rinds are also foods that can contribute to the problem.
I’ve seen patients require grafting for gum recession due to genetics, tongue tie, and lips or tongue attached aggressively. Foods are definitely the number two culprit. The leading cause of gum recession is gum disease, such as gingivitis or periodontitis.
Here’s the bottom line: if any of the below items apply to you, you’re at a higher risk for receding gums.
1. Gum disease, such as gingivitis and periodontitis (marked by frequently bleeding gums)
2. Eating gum-damaging foods (more details on specific foods below)
3. Aging (the older you get, the higher your risk)
5. Over-brushing your teeth
6. High blood pressure
8. Heart disease
9. Tobacco use
10. Poor dental hygiene, which can lead to excessive tooth decay or infection
11. Physical trauma to the teeth and gums
12. Hormone changes like pregnancy and menopause
13. Tongue tie and high frenum position
14. Lip or tongue piercings
Treat and Prevent Gum Disease
Gum disease will guarantee quick and irreversible gum recession. Many of the same hygiene tips mentioned above act as prevention of gum disease. They’re also proactive approaches to stopping or slowing the level of gum recession. Let’s recap how you can prevent gum disease before it starts.
• Brush your teeth gently in the morning, at night, and after eating or drinking anything sugary, acidic, or processed
• Rinse your mouth with water after drinking anything acidic
• Floss each day
• Try an electric toothbrush like the Boka brush that use sonic vibrations to break up plaque
• Deal with teeth grinding (potentially caused by sleep apnea)
If you are concerned about gum recession, please contact us immediately for a quick consult.