What causes gums to recede?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

Gums can recede for a variety of reasons, and it is important to understand that good oral hygiene alone does not guarantee protection against gum recession. While poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease are commonly associated with receding gums, there are other contributing factors that can lead to this condition.

One of the primary causes of gum recession is physical wear or low-grade trauma to the gums over an extended period of time. This can occur due to a number of reasons, such as aggressive tooth brushing or using a toothbrush with hard bristles. Brushing too hard or using a toothbrush with stiff bristles can cause the gums to recede gradually over time. Additionally, habits like clenching or grinding teeth can also put excessive pressure on the gums, leading to their recession.

Another potential cause of gum recession is improper dental care, specifically neglecting to properly clean and care for the teeth and gums. This can include not flossing regularly, which allows plaque and bacteria to accumulate along the gumline and cause inflammation. Over time, this inflammation can lead to gum recession. Additionally, not visiting the dentist regularly for professional cleanings and check-ups can contribute to gum recession, as early signs of gum disease or other oral health issues may go unnoticed and untreated.

Genetics can also play a role in gum recession. Some individuals may be genetically predisposed to having thinner or weaker gum tissues, making them more susceptible to recession. This is something that cannot be controlled, but it is important for individuals with a family history of gum recession to be extra vigilant with their oral hygiene practices and dental care.

Certain habits and lifestyle choices can also increase the risk of gum recession. For instance, smoking has been strongly linked to gum disease, which can ultimately lead to gum recession. Tobacco use reduces blood flow to the gums, impairs the body’s ability to fight infection, and hinders the healing process. These factors contribute to the deterioration of gum health and increase the likelihood of gum recession.

Lastly, hormonal changes in women, such as those experienced during pregnancy or menopause, can also contribute to gum recession. Fluctuations in hormone levels can affect the gums, making them more sensitive and prone to recession. It is important for women experiencing hormonal changes to maintain good oral hygiene and seek professional dental care to minimize the risk of gum recession.

While poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease are common causes of gum recession, there are other factors to consider. Physical wear or low-grade trauma to the gums, improper dental care, genetics, certain habits and lifestyle choices, and hormonal changes can all contribute to the development of gum recession. It is essential to practice good oral hygiene, visit the dentist regularly, and be aware of these potential causes to help prevent or minimize gum recession.