Gum recession is a common problem for adults, and is often associated with gum disease, although it can also occur in the absence of a gum infection. The term “gums” is the informal name for the soft, pink gingival tissue that surrounds the bottom portions of your teeth. Recession occurs when this tissue separates from your teeth, exposing your sensitive teeth roots. Since the process is a slow and gradual one, many patients don’t realize that their gums are receding until their teeth become sensitive, or until their dentist points out the condition.
Why Gums Recede
The beginning of gum disease is marked by an infection called gingivitis, which involves excessive bacteria and results in red, swollen, and bleeding gums. Some bacteria release toxins that attack the connective tissues between your gums and teeth, creating pockets for more germs to gather as the tissue pulls away. Aside from gingivitis and gum disease, gum recession can also occur due to;
- Over-zealous teeth brushing—Brushing your teeth too roughly, or using a harsh-bristled toothbrush, can irritate your gums and cause them to recede. It can also strip away your teeth’s protective layer of enamel, leaving them vulnerable to cavity-causing tooth decay.
- Hormone changes—Approximately 50-70% of pregnant women develop gingivitis during their pregnancy because hormone fluctuations can hinder the immune system. Oral bacteria can gather and attack more forcefully, and your gums may be more vulnerable to infection. Puberty and menopause can also mess with your hormones and make your gums more susceptible to recession and disease.
- Age—As you age, gum recession can result from, or indicate, bone and tissue loss. Practicing good hygiene and visiting your dentist at least once every six months for a checkup and cleaning can help prevent gum recession, or at least stay ahead of it so you can treat the condition early. In extreme cases, a gum graft may be necessary to fortify your gums if enough tissue has been irreversibly damaged.