What are Receding Gums? How to Treat & Prevent Gum Recession


how to fix receding gums

Gum recession happens when the gum tissue surrounding your teeth wears away or pulls back, exposing more of the tooth, or the tooth’s root. This allows gaps, or “pockets,” to form between your teeth and your gum line, where plaque and bacteria can collect. Left untreated, gum recession can cause cause bone and tooth loss. 

Symptoms of Receding Gums

Gum recession happens slowly, so you may not know your gums are receding. One of the first signs is tooth sensitivity—caused by an exposed tooth root. You may also notice your teeth look longer than normal. In more severe cases, a receding gum line can even cause loose teeth.

Causes of Receding Gums

So what causes receding gums in the first place? A number of factors can be responsible, including:

  • Poor dental hygiene: Inadequate brushing and flossing allows plaque—a sticky film of bacteria—to build up on teeth and harden into tartar (also called calculus). This can lead to periodontal (gum) disease, an infection of the gums. Early symptoms of gum disease include red, swollen, and bleeding gums.
  • Brushing too hard: Aggressive brushing can lead to sensitive teeth and receding gums. To make sure your not overbrushing, always remember to:
    • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
    • Place the bristles of your brush at a 45-degree angle to the gumline, and use short strokes up and down or small circles. (No sawing back and forth!)
    • Apply gentle pressure—just enough to feel the bristles against your gums. Squashed bristles mean you’re brushing too hard!
  • Grinding your teeth: Grinding can exert too much force on your teeth, leading to gum recession. If you think you might be grinding your teeth, the good news is, it’s easily treatable with a mouth guard and other options.
  • Crooked teeth or a misaligned bite: Improperly aligned teeth can also exert too much force on your gums and bone, causing gums to recede.
  • Genetics: You may be predisposed to gum recession. If one or both of your parents have receding gums, you’re at a higher risk too.

Receding Gums Treatment

Treatment for gum recession begins with identifying and addressing its cause. We can straighten crooked teeth, prevent grinding with a mouth guard, and improve oral hygiene with better brushing and flossing habits. 

Once we’ve addressed these factors—and how to stop receding gums from getting worse—there are several treatments we can use to restore your gum line. 

With mild gum recession, a professional deep cleaning to remove plaque and tartar buildup may be all that’s required.

Depending on the cause of your recession, you may need surgical treatment. For example, a gum graft, which involves taking healthy gum tissue from the roof of your mouth (or around the tooth needing repair) and using it to replace receded gum tissue.

If you’re experiencing bothersome sensitivity or notice your teeth appear longer, contact us at Cottonwood Dental to learn how to fix receding gums. Dr. Giaquinto can help you determine the best treatment option and restore your gums to health.

About The Author

Dr. David Giaquinto, DDS

Dentist at Cottonwood Dental

Dentistry is a profession that requires many layers of knowledge and training. My background encompasses three post-grad degrees along with a command of aesthetics and precision. Both of those are necessary when creating the great results that we promise our patients. Being a graduate of the University of New Mexico and Marquette University School of Dentistry has provided me with a launching point for my practice at Cottonwood Dental. My ongoing research… [Read full bio]