Teeth Care

Why Are My Gums Receding? Common Causes and Prevention

gum recession

When the margin of your gum tissue starts pulling back, your teeth are exposed.

Or more precisely, your tooth roots are. This process is known as gum recession. Some people also refer to it as being “long in the tooth”. It’s not something that is always easily noticed since the process is gradual and the early symptoms can be overlooked. Gum recession is a serious dental condition which could to mobility and loss of teeth if left untreated. These complications are usually because the bone structure of the surrounding teeth and underneath the gums become damaged thus failing to support the tooth.

Fortunately, if you have gum recession, there are treatment methods available and steps you can take to prevent it from getting worse or resulting in tooth loss.

why are my gums receding

Why Do Gums Recede?

Answer: Physical wear of the gums and inflammation of tissues

1. Poor Brushing Habits or Techniques
Brushing should be done gently. When performed aggressively, overzealous tooth brushing or using a stiff tooth brush will wear away your enamel and gum tissues, causing gum recession.

2. Periodontal Disease
This preventable gum infection destroys the soft tissue and supporting bone tissue below them. This leads to the loss of teeth. In many cases, gum recession is the result of untreated gum disease. Also called “periodonitis” or “periodontal gum disease”. Symptoms also include bleeding, swollen gums, and bad breath.

3. Bruxism
Chronic teeth clenching and grinding (bruxism) places excess pressure on the teeth. Overtime, it can lead to chipping away of the enamel at the gumlines, near the neck of the tooth. In turn, the gums are forced to recede in those locations.

4. Tongue or Lip Piercings
As cool as these piercings look and make you feel, they can cause direct physical damage to the gums they come in contact with. Oral jewelry will gradually irritate the gum causing it to recede on that tooth or teeth.

Do receding gums grow back? Can receding gum lines be reversed?

Unfortunately, no they do not. Receding gum-lines cannot be reversed or repaired on your own. The only option is to have your dentist physically graft or stretch the tissue in that area via a small surgery. Fortunately, you can make changes each day to prevent early gum recession symptoms from getting worse.

What does it mean if I have receding gums?

Gum recession is when your gum tissues (gingiva) pull back from or are traumatized away from the roots of your teeth. Healthy gums tissues hug each tooth tightly, creating a contoured margin that scallops across each tooth.

If one tooth appears “long” or you can see a yellow hue of the tooth root, gum recession has occurred.

How Can I Prevent Gum Recession?

The best treatment for gingival recession is prevention. Depending on the cause of your receding gums, there are various things you can do.
Common techniques include wearing a mouth guard, improving your brushing methods, daily flossing to prevent gingivitis, and treating periodontal disease (if needed).

Symptoms of Gum Recession

Keeping up with your six-month preventative care appointments is like checkups and cleanings is a priority. Your hygienist and dentist will be able to pinpoint early signs of gum recession so that you can take steps to prevent them from getting any worse or requiring surgery. Common symptoms of gum recession that you should watch out for include:

  • Bleeding after brushing or flossing
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Tender, swollen, red gums
  • Tooth sensitivity (caused by exposed roots)
  • Loose teeth or a single loose tooth
  • Heavy tarter buildup

1. Wearing a Mouth Guard

A mouth guard is a protective cover worn over the teeth to safeguard them from some type of physical injury (such as bruxism or athletic activities. It can help break clenching habits, prevent enamel wear and broken teeth, reduce the rate of gum recession and even help with headaches.

Different kinds of mouth guards.

In order for them to work effectively, you need to know which type to use. The various kinds of mouth guards include wearing a night guard, changing up your brushing methods and hygiene regimen, and treating periodontal disease.

Stock Mouth Guards
These guards come ready made and they can be easily found in various stores. Many people opt for this type of mouth guards because they are cheap. In the long run, they are expensive due to the oral damage they can cause. Most of us have different dental structures and needs hence, a mouth guard may need to be adjusted to meet those needs. Stock mouth guards can rarely be adjusted and this makes it difficult for you to talk or breathe normally.

Boil and Bite Mouth Guards
They are also commonly found in various stores. The boil and bite mouth protector works by boiling it to soften it and then placing it in your mouth. Once it is in your mouth, you can shape it using your finger or tongue by applying pressure around it. They provide more protection than stock mouth guards since their structure can be altered to fit your needs.

Custom mouth Guards
These are the best mouth guards to use. The guards are usually designed by your dentist or available for order online and fitted in your mouth after being molded. Unlike stock mouth guards, custom guards are comfortable to wear and offer maximum protection. Some people avoid using custom guards due to their expensive nature but a person can now purchase custom dental night guards online bypassing the dentist and saving hundreds of dollars.

2. Proper Brushing Methods

Brush your teeth gently preferably 3 times a day. Avoid being aggressive while bushing and also avoid brushing your teeth multiple times a day. This may make the enamel of your teeth wear off which results in gum recession.

gum recession

Something most people do wrong is brushing their teeth for 30 seconds and then rinse their mouths and go. Proper brushing should be done for about 2 minutes so that you can remove as much residue as possible from your teeth.

If the toothbrush you are currently using is almost a year old, you need to throw it out immediately. Dentists recommend that you change your toothbrush after every 3 months of use. Yes, even if it still looks new, it may not be effective in removing plaque compared to new brushes. You should also change your brush each time you have a flu or cold to make sure the germs that stick to your toothbrush do not cause a re-infection.

3. Treating Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease needs to be treated as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your gums and bone tissues. The type of treatment you will require depends on how advanced the periodontal disease is.

can receding gum be reversed

Mild cases of the disease will require deep cleaning to remove plaque. A laser may be used at times to remove tartar and plaque. It results in less inflammation, less bleeding, and less discomfort. In addition to this treatment method, antibiotics may be prescribed to kill the remaining bacteria and reduce the size of periodontal pockets.

In severe cases, surgery is necessary. If deep cleaning and antibiotics do not work, surgery is unavoidable. In this case, the gums are lifted to remove tartar and they are sutured back so that they can be firm around the tooth. This procedure is known as flap surgery.

Grafting is another option performed to regenerate tissue of the bone or gum which was lost from periodontal infections. The graft used can either be synthetic or natural. The type of graft will depend on your situation.

If your gum recession is caused by unmanaged bruxism, wearing a custom mouth guard will protect your teeth and gums before the damage gets any worse.

Some of the most common types of custom night guards include:

Soft Night Guard
These custom bite splints are suitable for mild cases of teeth grinding. They are made with softer material making it more comfortable for you to wear and sleep with.

Dual Laminate Night Guard
A laminate night guard is made of a softer material on the inside with a harder layer on the outside. This night guard lasts longer and is suitable for moderate cases of teeth grinding.

Hard Night Guard
This is the hardest type of night guard and is suitable in cases of heavy teeth grinding. It can last up to 5 years.

Have questions about which style if right for you? Contact us today!


sentinel mouthguards author
Ashely Notarmaso

Ashely Notarmaso is the author behind the Sentinel Mouth Guard Blog. She is the CEO and founder of Sentinel Mouth Guards (Founded in 2012) Her long-time work in the dental mouth guard arena and her excellent ability to listen to customer concerns in this often contradictory field has laid the groundwork to explore night guard/mouth guard fabrication in-depth and address real concerns. With the help of her team, she has created a unique fabrication method that promises a great fitting custom oral appliance every time. Amazon’s choice for #1 mouth guard! Visit the online store http://sentinelmouthguards.com

Verified By

medically verified by Sharon Boyd, RDH
Sharon Boyd, MA, BS, RDH

Registered Dental Hygienist, Bachelor of Science degree in Human Relations and Business, Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and Innovation
Texas Tech University

Registered Dental HygienistDental writer since 2011, specializing in web content, blogs, editing, proofreading, ghostwriting, white papers, e-book curation, patient educational resources/brochures, and professional development materials.Masters Degree in Strategic Communication 15 years as a Registered Dental Hygienist Degree in Human Relations and Business