Gum recession is common and affects 30% of American adults. It's usually a slow progression and isn't noticeable at first. Most people start to worry about gum recession when they notice their gum line moving back and their teeth looking longer. And gum recession doesn't just alter the appearance of your smile, it affects your oral and overall health. When gums start to pull back, "pockets'' form between the teeth and gum line where disease-causing bacteria get trapped and build up. Left alone, that bacteria will damage the gum tissue, tooth, and bone in the area, and cause irreversible damage.
The bacteria that accumulates around and under the gums makes its way into other parts of your body. And periodontitis (that dreaded gum disease) is linked with many other health conditions including diabetes and heart disease. Next time your dentist gives you yet another lecture on flossing, just know it's because they have your overall health in their best interests.
Now let's dive into more information about what causes receding gums, and what you can do keep it from getting worse.
Receding gums are caused by many factors
There are many reasons your gums might be receding. It's important to understand what causes gum recession to take the right action to stop it.
- Periodontitis (gum disease) is the main cause of gum recession. This means bacteria have infected the area and are damaging the gum tissue.
- Brushing your teeth too aggressively. That's right, brushing too hard or with the wrong technique can actually pull back your gum tissue.
- Not cleaning between your teeth. You guessed it, not flossing. The bacteria hides and thrives between your teeth.
- Grinding and clenching your teeth. The extra force not only wears down your enamel, it wears down your gums.
- Hormonal changes. A change in hormones makes the gums more sensitive which makes more sensitive to bacteria. That's why pregnant women experience more issues, even though their mouths have the same levels of bacteria as before their pregnancy.
- Medical conditions such as diabetes can also affect it.
- Smoking and tobacco. The sticky, icky stuff from tobacco sticks to your teeth and makes it hard to properly clean with your toothbrush.
Chatting with a dental care professional can help you identify what's causing your gum recession, and help you take the right steps to address it.
Do receding gums grow back?
Unfortunately gums do not grow back like our hair or nails. Once gum tissue has receded it's gone for good. That's why it's important to take action if your gums are, or if you suspect your gums are receding.
Reverse receding gums naturally?
Our clinicians get asked all the time if there are natural remedies to stop or even reverse receding gums. We have to be the bearers of bad news: there isn't a proven method to get gums to grow back.
The first step to address gum recession early is to see your dentist. They'll probably schedule you for a deep cleaning treatment, called "scaling and root planing" where they clean under the gum line to help clear out all the bacteria. You'll want to continue seeing your dentist regularly for cleanings to combat future buildup near or under the gums.
While seeing your dentist and getting regular cleanings is critical for your gum health, what you do at home makes a huge difference. You have the power to take your gum health into your own hands. It all starts with what you do everyday from home with your oral health routine.
How to reverse receding gums from home? These tips won't reverse gum recession, but they will help you stop it from getting worse.
It's no news to anybody that flossing daily is great for oral health. But it's not the only thing we can do to maintain a healthy gum line.
"I see a lot of patients who floss everyday but who still experience receding gums. They care so much about their health and they are frustrated that they're doing everything they can but are still having this bad outcome. That's when I love to unpack the factors that cause gum recession and work with them to form a personal strategy that will really work for their gum health," shares Wally hygienist, Iman Zayed, RDH.
Those strategies all incorporate using the right oral care techniques everyday from home. Here are our top techniques to help you combat receding gums.
- If you use a manual toothbrush, consider upgrading to an electric sonic toothbrush. That means the bristles pulse in a way that's effective for cleaning and safe for your gums.
- If your toothbrush has medium or hard bristles, throw them out and buy a soft-head toothbrush.
- While good old fashioned elbow grease is required to scrub the food caked on a pan, the same technique does not apply for brushing your teeth. Be gentle when you brush, and if you have an electric toothbrush, let the brush guide your hand.
- Brush at least twice per day for two minutes to ensure you're scrubbing all the nooks and crannies around the gum line.
- Floss or use a water pik daily to keep the spaces between your teeth clean (of course we had to mention this).
- Wear a night guard if you grind or clench your teeth.
Understanding the nuances of your mouth by chatting with an oral care professional is also highly recommended so you can adapt these techniques and learn of others to keep your gums healthy from home.
Gum recession is one of the top concerns with our members and we really enjoy helping them address it from home. If gum health is a priority for you, try out our at-home starter kit and connect 1:1 with your virtual hygienist to discuss the right at-home techniques to stop gum recession from getting worse.
Want to learn more about gum recession? Check out "Gum Recession: Your ultimate guide" for everything you need to know, from how to keep gum recession from getting worse, the right products or procedures for gum recession, and what braces do to your gums.