What Causes Gum Recession?

woman with toothache

Do you look at your smile and feel that your teeth appear longer than they should? While a big, beaming smile is nothing to be ashamed of, those patients who find that their smile seems a little larger than it should may actually suffering from a dental condition known as gum recession. Fortunately, it is a problem that can be fairly easily rectified, enabling you to enjoy a more natural-looking gum line and improved oral health.

What is gum recession?

Gum recession is the term used to describe a condition whereby the gum tissue, which usually fits snugly around the teeth, pulls back away from them, exposing more of the enamel than is normally seen. This creates gaps between the gum and tooth, allowing disease-causing bacteria to accumulate and if left untreated, damage to occur to the teeth and soft tissues. In some instances, the recession is so severe that some of the root of the tooth can also be seen. Gum recession is a fairly common problem, but prompt diagnosis and treatment can help ensure that you don’t experience any lasting effects.

Causes of gum recession

There are a variety of different factors that are believed to contribute towards the development of gum recession. Let’s take a look at some of the most common.

Periodontal disease

By far the most common reason behind gum recession is periodontal disease. Also known by other names including gingivitis, periodontitis and gum disease, it refers to the gum infections, caused by bacteria, which can destroy gum tissues and the bone that is responsible for holding your teeth in place. Unfortunately, most patients will experience some degree of gum disease during their lifetime, and early symptoms are easy to ignore, meaning that it is usually more advanced before patients seek treatment. First signs of periodontal disease include:

- Red, swollen gums that feel sore

- Bleeding gums

- Chronic bad breath

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important that you don’t ignore them and schedule a check-up with our dentist.

Brushing too vigorously

Many people mistakenly believe that the harder they brush, the cleaner their teeth will be. In actual fact, brushing too hard can wear down the enamel on your teeth and force your gums to recede. Brush gently, in circular motions for the best results.

Clenching/grinding your teeth

Patients who subconsciously or unconsciously clench/grind their teeth are said to be suffering from bruxism, a condition that can have many repercussions for your dental health, including gum recession.

Orthodontic problems

Very few people have teeth that come together perfectly evenly when they bite down. However, a misaligned bite can cause too much force to be placed on the jaw bone and the soft tissues of the gums, triggering recession to occur.


We know that smoking is bad for our general health, but it can also prove to have serious consequences for our teeth too. Tobacco users are more likely to develop plaque on their teeth, and this in turn can make them at greater risk of being affected by gum recession.

Poor oral health

Keeping your teeth healthy means daily brushing, flossing and rinsing with good quality fluoride products. Failing to do so properly can lead to decay and subsequent damage to your gums including recession.

What should I do if my gums are receding?

If you think you are suffering from gum recession, you should make an appointment with our dentist as soon as possible, as prompt treatment will prevent any further damage from occurring. Once your see our dentist, he/she can assess the condition of your teeth and gums and recommend which treatment would be best suited to help you.

It is important to understand that gums do not grow back themselves, and in severe cases, patients have been known to undergo soft tissue grafts to help rebuild their gum line and help protect their teeth from additional damage. Another technique, known as Chao Pinhole, helps to reshape the gum tissue so that it better covers the enamel of your teeth and creates a more natural-looking gum line. However, the first step is to speak to our dentist and get advice on what to do to prevent the recession from worsening until you can start treatment.

If you are concerned that you may be suffering from gum recession and would like expert advice, our experienced team are here to assist you. Please telephone our offices to book your appointment.