Receding Gums: Causes and Treatment

You’ve most likely noticed it from a past visit to the dentist. The hygienist goes around your mouth, inspects each tooth, and calls out a number. Depending on the dental office and the patient, the number may be referencing the degree to which your gums are receding. Receding gums lead to pockets of space between your teeth and gums. Bacteria quickly find their way into these little pockets and cause decay and disease, which can ultimately lead to tooth or bone loss.


Gingival recession (receding gums) is often caused by something as innocuous as patients brushing their teeth too hard with too much force. Aggressive brushing doesn’t reduce decay and, in fact, the hard motions can cause your gums to recede over time. For this reason, we advise that all patients choose a toothbrush that is labeled ‘soft.’

However, aggressive brushing isn’t the only trigger for gingival recession. Other factors that can cause receding gums include genetics, tooth position, excessive bruxism (grinding your teeth), hormonal changes, tobacco use, or lack of oral health.


What can you do if your gums are receding too much, too quickly? As with most problems, early treatment enables us to stop the problem in its tracks before it leads to bigger, more permanent issues. If your gingival recession is more advanced, then we can schedule root planing or scaling to remove plaque and bacteria underneath the gums and around the roots, making sure your periodontal area is healthy.

Root Planing + Scaling

This treatment starts with a thorough cleaning that may include scaling to remove plaque and tartar deposits beneath the gum line, making sure any pockets that have developed between your teeth and gums are free of bacteria. Tooth roots can also be planed to smooth the root surface, giving room for gum tissue to heal and reattach to the tooth. In some cases, your bite can need readjusting. We might recommend antibiotics or rinsing with antimicrobials to help stop the growth of bacteria that cause periodontitis.

Gum Grafting

If we’re not able to solve the problem through root planing + scaling, then we may schedule a surgical procedure known as gum grafting. During the procedure, a thin piece of tissue is taken from the roof of the mouth, or gently moved over from adjacent areas, to provide a stable, healthy band of flesh around the tooth. The procedure is highly predictable and typically successful in addressing the problems associated with gum recession.

In the end, gum recession can become a problem worth addressing. Fortunately, our team has the skills and experience to bring your gums back to health and restore your beautiful smile.

If you have any questions about receding gums or if you would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our team or make an appointment. Our incredible staff will give you the best dental care possible.

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Patient's Dental Dictionary | 6th Ave Periodontics