Gum recession is a very common problem, that many of us experience in varying degrees over the years. Sometimes it is so mild that it may go unnoticed, but frequently you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Inflammation and redness of the gums.
- Your teeth becoming longer.
- Sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks
- Bleeding of the gums, especially the area just adjacent to the tooth
- Mobility and looseness of teeth
These are all signs and symptoms of periodontal disease (also known as gum disease). One of the key manifestations of gum disease is receding gums. This occurs due to the loss of collagen fibers in the gums, so they lose their support and start to fade and shrink away, the same way that the skin wrinkles with age.
So what are the causes of receding gums?
Bad oral hygiene Causes Receding Gums
Receding gums as explained is one of the features of gum and periodontal disease. With poor oral hygiene, plaque and tartar start to accumulate at the gum lining and apply pressure on the gums. With time and more lack of care, the gums start to give way and lose their strength, and they begin to shrink. In mild cases, a quick cleaning procedure may help to improve the situation, but if left untreated for a while, the effects may be irreversible.
Smoking Causes Receding Gums
We asked our friend, Dr. Dennis Laurich, a dentist in Canton, MI, about how smoking affects receding gums. Dr. Laurich says that the sworn enemy of the gums is smoking. While smoking does not cause recession of the gums directly, it contributes greatly to bad oral hygiene, and consequently could result in gum recession over time. Dr. Laurich highly recommends quitting the use of tobacco to save your gums and overall health.
Excessive or violent brushing Causes Receding Gums
This may come as a shock to most people, but excessive brushing may be just as bad as not brushing at all. If you violently scrub your teeth 5 or 6 times a day, thinking that this would prevent decay or gum disease, you need to stop immediately. Violent brushing not only causes grazing and cracking of the enamel which could lead to decay, but it also tears the collagen fibers of the gums and makes the recession proceed a lot faster.
Sometimes, recession is inevitable, such as that which happens with age. Unfortunately, you can’t control it, and it will happen sooner or later, but you can help delay the process by following a strict oral hygiene regimen and taking care of your teeth and mouth.
Some medical conditions could contribute to weakness in the gums and subsequent recession. Diabetic patients are the most common, where diabetes directly influences the amount and strength of the collagen fibers, and the gums are inherently weak and prone to recession. Pregnancy has a similar effect, where all the nutrients are sucked away to be given to the growing baby, and the gums take a hit, but usually, the effect is reversible once the baby is born.
You might think “why does grinding the top of my teeth affect the gums which are far below?”. Well, this happens because the excessive pressure on the teeth wears the top, but generates micro cracks at the bottom where the gums meet the tooth. These cracks are invisible but they cause irritation of the gums, and they have no choice but to recede away or risk injury.