Causes of Gum Recession

Nearly half of adults in the U.S.  over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). By the age of 65, more than 70% of adults will have gum disease. Gum disease is the leading cause of gum recession, also called receding gums.  However, it is not the only culprit behind gums that seem to be shrinking.  Here’s a comprehensive guide to the many causes of gum recession.


  • Gum Disease (Periodontal Disease)

Periodontal disease is responsible for gum disease in most patients. In its mildest form, periodontal disease is called gingivitis. Gingivitis develops from the accumulation of plaque and bacteria on the teeth that lead to infection and consequently, inflammation. 

  • Inadequate Oral Hygiene

Inadequate oral hygiene habits and lack of dental care are to blame in many cases, for receding gums. When the teeth are not cared for sufficiently, bacterial accumulation results in plaque, calculus, and tartar which pulls the gums away from the teeth. 

  • Genetics

Unfortunately, gum recession tends to run in families.  If a family member has struggled with receding gums, you’re more at risk of developing the condition. Likewise, if you were born with what is called “high frenal attachment” you may be more susceptible to receding gums. 

High-frenal attachment is the term used to describe a condition in which the membranes (called frena) that attach to the muscles responsible for lip and cheek movement are attached higher than normal. This can result in pulling on the gums, putting you at increased risk of suffering from gum recession. 

  • Aggressive Tooth Brushing
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If you brush your teeth and gums too roughly, you cause them to sustain trauma. This can lead to gum recession.

  • Trauma to the Mouth

Injuries to the mouth may also increase your risk of receding gums. When an injury or trauma to the face or mouth causes a tooth to be displaced, the soft tissue may pull away, leading to gum recession. 

  • Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Grinding your teeth while you sleep can have serious oral health consequences, including cracked teeth, worn teeth, and irritation to the gums leading to recession.

  • Orthodontic Treatment

Much like a tooth displaced in an accident can result in gum recession, the constant force applied to the teeth during orthodontic treatment may inadvertently lead to irritated gums which then begin to recede.  

Risks of Gum Recession

Receding gums pose not only a risk to your appearance. They also pose a significant risk to your oral health. Receding gums may be responsible for up to 70% of tooth loss in adults.  Receding gums may also result in infections, tooth decay, exposed tooth roots, bad breath, and pain.  

Moreover, when gum recession leads to the formation of deep pockets between the teeth and gums, the disease-causing buildup of bacteria can even enter the bloodstream, compromising your overall health. Indeed, periodontal disease has been linked to respiratory illnesses, stroke, heart disease, low birth weight, preterm birth, and even inflammatory arthritis.  

Preventing Gum Recession

There is nothing you can do to change genetics. But even if receding gums run in your family, you can lower your risk by practicing excellent oral hygiene. You should brush your teeth at least twice daily for a full two minutes each time. You should also floss your teeth daily. Regular dental exams and cleanings every six months are also essential. Finally, if you develop any of the symptoms of gum disease (red, swollen, bleeding gums, or toothache), or sustain any trauma to the face, book a dental appointment immediately. 

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Costello Oral Surgery Associates in New Jersey provides expert oral and maxillofacial surgery services to Paramus, Maywood, Franklin Lakes, Wayne, Bergen, and Passaic Counties. 

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