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    Woman with Receding Gums Check-up

    Receding Gums – What is it and what does it mean?

    Receding gums are a common dental problem that many people experience, often without even realizing it. Thanks to a gradual onset and few obvious symptoms, receding gums often go undetected for quite some time. Knowing what can cause gums to recede and some ways to help prevent it from happening can help keep your mouth in top shape.

    What are receding gums?

    Gum recession means that the soft gum tissue that surrounds your teeth starts to pull back, exposing the sensitive part of the tooth’s root. When this happens, it can lead to gaps or pockets between your gum line and teeth. These gaps are prime places for bacteria and food particles to get stuck, leading to an increased potential for cavities, tooth decay and even tooth loss.

    The first sign that your gums might be receding is often increased tooth sensitivity. If you are noticing increased sensitivity, your teeth starting to look longer or can see or feel a notch in your tooth along your gumline, you may benefit from a visit to the dentist to troubleshoot and prevent further damage.

    Causes of gum recession

    There are many factors that can lead to an increased likelihood of gum recession.

    Gum disease/Periodontitis: This is the leading cause of gum recession. Gum disease, or periodontitis, is a bacterial infection that can harm both gum tissue as well as the bones that hold your teeth in place.

    Genetics: Regardless of how well you care for your teeth, your genes may be working against you. A significant portion of the population may actually be predisposed to gum disease, and in turn, receding gums.

    Poor dental care habits: Avoiding a good oral care routine thst involves daily brushing, flossing and using mouthwash can lead to the buildup of tartar and an increased likelihood of gum recession.

    Improper brushing technique and toothbrush choice: Using a hard bristled toothbrush and brushing too aggressively can irritate your gums, causing them to recede from your teeth.

    Use of tobacco products: Along with the negative effects smoking and other tobacco products can have on your body, it’s also particularly bad for your teeth. Tobacco use can lead to increased plaque formation and, in turn, receding gums.

    Unnecessary force on your teeth: Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw can put added pressure on your teeth and jaw, causing gums to react by receding. This can also happen when teeth are crooked or misaligned.

    Oral piercings: Having a tongue or lip piercing that rubs against your gumline can cause irritation that could lead to gum recession.

    Shifts in hormones: Significant fluctuations in hormone levels such as those experienced during puberty, pregnancy and menopause can cause gum and teeth sensitivities and an increased chance of receding gums.

    Tips to prevent gum recession

    Preventing your gums from receding can feel like a difficult task, especially seeing all of the things that can cause it. However, there are a few things that you can do to help prevent your gums from receding, and to treat them if they do show signs of doing so.

    Maintain a good cleaning schedule – Cleaning your teeth daily with regular brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash can help prevent against gums getting irritated and pulling away from your teeth.

    Use a soft-bristled brush – If your brush is too hard it can aggravate your gums and force them to retract.

    Get a mouthguard – If you grind your teeth or clench your jaw, especially while sleeping, a mouthguard can help prevent this from irritating your gums.

    Quit smoking – Tobacco use has been shown to lead to poor mouth health, including receding gums.

    Eat a mouth-friendly diet – What you put into your mouth can significantly affect the health of your teeth and gums.

    Visit your dentist

    Seeing your dentist at least yearly will help you keep an eye on your mouth health and stay ahead of any concerns. Receding gums can be hard to spot if you’re not checking regularly, and your dentist will know exactly what to look for.