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Top Causes of Gum Recession

Man worried about gum recession looking at teeth and gums.

Noticing that your gums are receding can be scary. So scary, in fact, that many people avoid seeking treatment out of fear. What you may not know is that receding gums are actually common. And the earlier you address it, the better.

Unfortunately, you cannot naturally regrow gum tissue once it is lost. This is why it is crucial to address it as soon as possible. There are ways to halt receding gums and prevent further loss. Again, early treatment is key.

Causes of Receding Gums

The first step to preventing and halting gum recession is knowing what can contribute to the problem. There are both preventable and unavoidable causes of receding gums.

Gum Disease

Periodontal disease is the leading cause of receding gums. Bacterial infections of the gum tissue can have detrimental effects on the gums, causing them to recede. Unfortunately, this becomes a slippery slope, as gum recession can promote the development of additional pockets of infection, therefore contributing to more gum recession.

The good news is that gum disease is preventable and reversible. A diligent oral hygiene routine (see below) is often sufficient to prevent gum disease. If you think you might have gum disease, schedule a visit immediately to be evaluated and treated, likely with a thorough cleaning and, depending on your circumstances, antibiotics.

Oral Hygiene & Dental Care

Good oral hygiene and care are not only needed to maintain the health of your teeth; it is critical for healthy gums. Aggressive tooth brushing or using a hard-bristled brush can actually damage your teeth and gums.

Brush gently for two minutes twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Angle your brush and pay special attention to the area where your teeth meet your gums. Floss daily and use a mouthwash to clean between teeth. Get regular, twice-per-year dental visits for a thorough cleaning so that we can pick up on any signs of gum disease or recession early.

Tobacco Use

Tobacco use causes a whole host of health problems, gum disease included. Quitting tobacco can help stop tooth decay, discoloration, and periodontal disease.

Tooth Grinding

Tooth grinding, or bruxism, can happen during the day or while you sleep. Grinding your teeth can loosen them and create space for bacteria to thrive. This increases the risk of disease that can contribute to gum recession. Special night guards can be used to address bruxism.


Unfortunately, genetics have a role in gum recession. Your genes can predispose you to have receding gums. There is nothing you can do to change your genes, so excellent oral hygiene is essential.

Hormonal Changes

Hormones have a role to play as well. Specifically, female hormone fluctuations can make someone more susceptible. Puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can all affect your gums. Whether this is treatable is something you should discuss with your dentist and your doctor.


The chance of gum recession increases with age. And like genetics, there is nothing you can do to stop the clock. Great oral hygiene and dental care are your best defense against age-related gum recession.


While you cannot naturally reverse gum recession, you can halt its progress. As we mentioned, a dedicated oral care routine including regular dentist visits, deep cleanings, and an at-home regimen can often stop gum recession from progressing further. In addition, with modern dental treatment, there are promising options to consider.

Other treatment options include the pinhole gum recession procedure to restore gum tissue. This procedure is a less invasive and less painful option than traditional connective tissue grafting. By creating tiny “pinholes” in the gum tissue, the dental care provider can loosen and move the gum further down the tooth, where it is secured with a special biocompatible collagen membrane. The body then heals the wound, and the gums are effectively lengthened.

The important takeaway is not to wait. As soon as you notice signs of gum recession, schedule a visit with Tompkins Dental!

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