Gingival Recession

Gingival recession is a condition where the gums recede, and expose more of the tooth than what is healthy. This can cause sensitivity of teeth, and if the recession becomes very severe, teeth may become looser. Mostly, the problems with gingival recession are aesthetic, but recessed gums can cause a host of problems, and should be considered a medical and not aesthetic problem. To learn more about the specific mechanisms at play with gingival recession, and how that can affect your health, read here. 


A number of things can cause gingival recession. It can be hereditary, you may just have thinner gums that normal, and they may not cover enough of your teeth. This is a rare situation, however. If your teeth are over crowded, and you are in need of orthodontics, you may also experience that your gums just do not cover your teeth adequately, and while your gingival tissue may not recede as such, the symptoms will be the same as with gingival recession. Smoking, alcohol abuse, and any activity that dries out your mouth can cause your gums to recede as well. Your gums may also recede because of a periodontal disease that is eating away at your gums, causing them to atrophy. Bruxism, or the nightly grinding of teeth can also cause this condition. But most commonly, the reasons are self inflicted. Gum, recession is all too frequently the result of too aggressive brushing or flossing. When you brush your teeth very strongly, you can literally brush away parts of the gums, which will than start to recede. Flossing can also cause this, as if you press down too hard too frequently with the dental floss, you will experience gingival recession. The other frequent cause of gingival recession is age. Many people over 40 will experience this condition, it is just a symptom of aging.  


Gingival recession rarely shows itself as an acute problem, usually, the problem builds up over time, with imperceptible slowness. This is the main reason why gingival recession is typically a dental issue that affects adults. The effects thus are also usually felt over time. 

Bleeding and sore gums when brushing or flossing are the most common side effects of this condition. Sensitivity of teeth is also very commonly reported. Gingival recession is also unsightly, as the cementum of the tooth, the part usually tucked away under the gums, is of a different, darker color than the enamel of the tooth. Patients suffering from gingival recession also have more frequent cavities below the gumline, as food has more space to get trapped in, because there is more space between the gums and the teeth. 


It is very important to keep your mouth well lubricated at all times, this will reduce the symptoms greatly, and will also help your gums produce adequate blood flow, thus beefing your gums up a bit. For patients where the gum loss is too severe, a gum graft may become necessary. This is an invasive surgery in which part of your gum is removed and grafted over the parts that are recessed. For patients whose gum recession is self inflicted, cessation of the activity causing the recession will result in the gums healing themselves over time. Sometimes orthodontry will be necessary, to reduce crowding, and this will also over time have the effect of the gingiva returning to a healthy position.