What Causes Gum Recession?

What causes Gum (Gingiva) to recede?  What can be done to help?

When the gums or gingiva recede, it exposes more of the tooth, usually the root.  There are several things that can lead to this recession:

  1. Brushing too hard with your toothbrush. This can be either too much pressure placed on the gums while brushing, or a repeated brush stroke in the same place every time while brushing.
  2. Using a stiff-bristled brush. Medium to hard toothbrush bristles are too stiff to use on gum tissue.  These toothbrushes are never recommended, but companies make them because people buy them.
  3. Using whitening or higher abrasive tooth paste. Whitening toothpastes do not make the teeth whiter.  They contain more abrasive particles and are simply more efficient at removing stain.  But this abrasiveness can lead to recession.
  4. Gum disease (periodontal disease) can lead to bone loss around the teeth and expose more of the root surface.
  5. Depending how the teeth are positioned at the completion of orthodontic treatment, they may be at greater risk for gum recession.

What can be done to help prevent gum recession?

  • Always use a soft or extra-soft bristle toothbrush.
  • Moderate your brush stroke; don’t brush too hard, and try to brush in small circles versus a vigorous back and forth stroke.
  • Consider using an electric toothbrush that has a built-in indicator that lets you know if you are brushing too hard.
  • Avoid whitening toothpastes if possible. If you smoke, or drink coffee or tea and your teeth stain easily, try using the whitening toothpaste alternately with a regular toothpaste.
  • See your dentist regularly to check for gum disease, and treat it if necessary.