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8 Causes of Gum Recession

The California Dental Association (CDA) estimates that 70% of US adults have some form of periodontal disease, which includes receding gums. Receding gums occur when your gum tissue pulls back from the surface of your teeth, exposing the roots. The gums become red, painful, and swollen, and they may bleed slightly.

There are a number of different treatments available, depending on the extent of tissue loss. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better the outcome. Left untreated, gum recession can eventually lead to tooth loss.

Here at Crownridge Dental in San Antonio, Texas, Dr. Christian Pham and the entire dental team take gum recession very seriously. We want our patients to understand the condition, so we’ve put together this guide to help you understand the various causes of gum recession, as well as what treatment options are available.

What are gingivitis and periodontal disease?

The gums, also called the gingivae, are made up of pink tissue in the mouth that meets the base of the teeth. There is a single gum for each set of teeth.

Gingival tissue is dense, with a large supply of blood vessels beneath a moist mucous membrane. The gums attach securely to the jawbone and cover each tooth tightly up to the neck. When intact, the gums protect the teeth’s roots from food, bacteria, acid, and plaque buildup.

Gum recession occurs when a person experiences a loss of gum tissue, exposing the fragile tooth roots to bacteria and plaque, which leads to decay. This early form of gum disease is known as gingivitis.

Periodontal disease is an advanced form of gingivitis. Bacteria and plaque build up on the teeth, and over time, they damage the gingival tissue, causing it to pull back from the teeth, or recess. When the recession becomes severe, pockets form between the gums and the teeth, allowing for further buildup of bacteria and plaque. If not treated, the teeth can come loose from their moorings and fall out.

The 8 causes of gum recession

To understand how gingivitis and periodontal disease take root, it’s important to understand their causes. There are eight main causes of gum recession.

1. Periodontal diseases

The primary cause of gum recession is the infection of the gingival tissue and the supporting bone, both of which can ultimately loosen teeth.

2. Genetics

If close family members have gum disease, chances are you may, too. Studies show that some 30% of the population is genetically predisposed to gum disease and recession, and will get them no matter how well they care for their teeth.

3. Poor oral hygiene

You’ve probably heard it many times from your parents and from your dentist — you need to brush, floss, and rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash twice a day to keep your teeth healthy. Failure to do so makes it easy for soft, sticky plaque to turn into hard tartar that builds up on and between your teeth. It can’t be removed except by a professional dental cleaning.

4. Brushing teeth too aggressively

Brushing your teeth too hard causes erosion of the tooth enamel, and subsequently leads to gum recession. Over-brushing may cause recession even if your oral hygiene is otherwise good.

5. Smoking

Tobacco products can impair the immune system, preventing adequate healing in the gingival tissue.

6. Bruxism

Grinding or clenching your teeth, often during sleep, puts too much force on gums and causes them to recede.

7. Crooked/misaligned teeth

When your bite is uneven, whether due to crooked teeth or to a jaw misalignment, it places too much force on the gums and underlying bone, allowing gums to recede.

8. Ill-fitting dentures/body piercings of the mouth

If you have partial or full dentures that don’t fit well, they slide around your mouth when you talk and chew, leading to gum irritation and recession. 

In the same way, wearing pierced jewelry on your lip or tongue can irritate the gums to the point where they erode the tissue.

How do you treat gum recession?

Dr. Pham can treat mild gum recession by deep cleaning the affected area, a procedure known as tooth scaling and root planing. He may also give you a course of antibiotics to remove any remaining harmful bacteria.

If your gum recession has progressed to where you’ve lost a lot of bone and developed very deep pockets, he may need to perform gum surgery to repair the damage. Along with the surgery, he may treat the area with a regenerative material, such as graft tissue or a tissue-stimulating protein.

Are your gums red, painful, and swollen? You probably have a case of gum recession, and that needs to be treated before it becomes a major health problem. Contact Crownridge Dental by phone at 210-538-7500, or by scheduling an appointment online today.

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