Your gums comprise the soft tissue that surrounds and seal the lower parts of your teeth from food debris, bacterial plaque, infection, and decay. Like a gasket in a motor, this seal can lose its grip for a number of reasons, including normal wear and tear.
While gum recession can occur naturally, it still spells trouble for your oral health by exposing your teeth’s roots and making your gum tissue vulnerable to disease. Often, your gums may recede because disease has already set in. Regardless of the cause, gum recession is a problem that must be addressed if you wish to protect your smile from damaging oral health issues.
A Gradual Separation
Many patients do not realize their gums are receding because it typically occurs gradually. If one or more teeth look longer than they should, or are sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, your gums may be slowly pulling away from your teeth.
As they do so, the separation creates small pockets between your gums and your teeth’s roots where disease-causing germs can gather and grow, safe from the reach of your toothbrush. If left unchecked, gum disease can damage your teeth’s supporting tissues and jawbone structure, eventually resulting in tooth loss.
Why Gums Recede
Aside from a lifetime of use, gums can recede for a variety of reasons, including (but not limited to):
- Gum disease—gum recession not only contributes to gum disease development, it is also a symptom of it. When bacteria gather at your gum line in the form of plaque, the germs release toxins that irritate your gums and damage the connective tissue that bonds them to your teeth.
- Genetics—your hair and eyes are not the only things your parents gave you. According to studies, approximately 30% of the population may be genetically more at risk for gum disease, in spite of an excellent dental hygiene routine.
- Overzealous brushing—enthusiasm in your dental health care is an admirable trait, but try to contain your excitement when brushing and flossing your teeth. Scrubbing too harshly can wear away your tooth enamel and cause your gums to recede in irritation.