Your gums are the soft, pink periodontal tissues that surround the roots of your teeth, protecting them from harmful oral bacteria. Your gums also help hold your teeth steady as you bite and chew. Gum recession is a condition that describes your gum tissues pulling away from your teeth, exposing the roots while creating pockets between your teeth and gums. Besides exposing your teeth roots and making them increasingly more sensitive, gum recession can also significantly raise your risks of developing periodontal disease. As the pockets grow, oral bacteria can gather inside of them, clinging to your teeth roots where your toothbrush and floss cannot reach them.
Causes of Gum Recession
As you age, your risks of gum recession may increase, but that doesn’t mean receding gums are a natural part of aging. Typically, gums recede for a variety of reasons, many of which can be avoided. One of the common causes of gum recession is especially harsh teeth brushing and flossing; the excessive pressure can irritate the gums and force them away from your teeth. Another, more nefarious reason is the development of gingivitis—the first stage of gum disease. As gingivitis causes your gums to become inflamed, the inflammation can separate the tissues from your teeth, exacerbating the disease and inflammation.
Gum recession may not always be a result of gum disease, but regardless of its cause, receding gums will eventually become diseased if not treated promptly. In minor cases, periodontal cleaning (or scaling and root planing) may be enough to allow the gums to heal and reattach to your teeth roots. However, in more severe cases, your dentist may refer you to a periodontist or oral surgeon to perform a surgical gum graft and repair compromised gum tissues.