Receding gums are when the gums get pushed back or wear away, revealing the pink tissue that covers the root of the teeth. This can be problematic, as the tooth is left at risk of sensitivity, decay, infection and in severe cases – loss. However, you don’t need to worry. If caught early, receding gums are easily treated. If you think you are at risk of developing gum recession there are plenty of things you can do to prevent this from happening.
But firstly, what are the symptoms of receding gums?
- Teeth look longer and gaps between teeth start to appear
- Teeth feel loose or wobbly
- Bad breath
- Bleeding gums when brushing teeth
- Teeth become more sensitive to cold and hot foods, due to exposed roots
Now you know the symptoms of receding gums and when to be concerned, what are the causes?
Periodontal diseases are gum infections caused by bacteria. The early stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis and can be treated. However, if problems continue to develop, this will turn into periodontal disease. If this is not treated, the bone in your jaw may be damaged and small spaces can appear between your gums and teeth, eventually leading to tooth loss.
People who smoke are more likely to get receding gums because they are more likely to have a sticky plaque on their teeth. This is difficult to remove and can cause the gums to recede. If you are concerned about getting receding gums, speak to your GP for advice on giving up smoking.
If you do not brush your teeth enough and thoroughly, poor oral hygiene makes you more likely to get receding gums because of the buildup of plaque. However, receding gums can also occur when you have good oral hygiene.
Likewise, if you brush your teeth too aggressively or incorrectly, your gums could recede. Investing in an electric toothbrush may help to correct this.
Abnormal tooth positioning
If your teeth do not align properly, you may get receding gums. This is because too much force can be exerted onto the gums. Attending regular checkups with your dentist will mean that the situation is kept a close eye on.
Bruxism, or the inadvertent grinding of teeth at night, can also cause receding gums because of the pressure it puts on your teeth. Bruxism can also have other negative effects on your health and wellbeing, such as headaches, chipped teeth and problems sleeping. If you think you might have bruxism, make an appointment with your dentist. You may be treated with a mouth guard to help prevent it.
Changes in oestrogen levels during a woman’s lifetime can make gums sensitive to gum recession.
Genetics and age
Unfortunately, whilst there are many causes that can be prevented, genetics and age play a part in the gum recession. Some people are more susceptible to periodontal diseases than others. If someone in your family has had problems with receding gums, make sure you attend regular dental check-ups.