Gum recession (gingival recession) doesn't happen overnight. It is a gradual process that creeps up on you until one day you look in the mirror and stare, aghast, at the sight of your withered gumline. Much like a receding hairline, gums recede over time; the only difference is you might not notice until you examine your gums closely. People on busy schedules, with little time or energy to devote to oral hygiene may not notice gum recession until the damage is severe.
If you have noticed that your gums have receded, don't panic. While gum recession is a symptom of periodontal disease, there are other causes of gingival recession too, which shall be covered here. The one thing that is for certain is that gum recession is far more common in adults, and the frequency tends to increase with age.
Your Hygiene Practices May be Causing the Recession
When brushing or flossing your teeth, don't overdo it. Be gentle and use a soft-bristled tooth brush because too much force can damage your gums and cause them to recede.
Your Frenum Could be Misplaced
Your frenum, which is the small flap of tissue connecting your lip to your gums, might be too high on the gum. A frenum that is too high up on the gum pulls the gums down, causing them to recede. A dentist can fix this problem fairly easily, through minor surgery.
You Could be a Grinder
If you grind your teeth at night you aren't just damaging your teeth. The constant crushing force exerted on your teeth transfers to your gums too and leads to gum recession.
You should see your dentist about wearing a nightguard to arrest this problem.
An Oral Piercing Could be the Culprit
Tongue and lower lip piercings also cause gum recession. This is especially true for lip piercings which may rest against your lower gums, damaging them enough to cause them to recede. If this is the cause, you should consider removing the piercing.
Your Teeth Could be Misaligned
Overcrowded teeth also cause gum recession because the teeth are all squeezed into one small area where there isn't enough bone to support them. This can be fixed with braces or Invisalign.
It Could be Genetics
Unfortunately, some people have weak gums simply because they inherited them. For severely receded teeth that are at risk of tooth decay, a dentist can place a gum graft over the root to protect the tooth.
You May Have Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease occurs due to poor oral hygiene. When plaque builds up on your teeth, it hardens into tartar, which can then spread below the gum line, loosening the ligaments that hold the gums against your teeth, and causing the bone in which your teeth sit to deteriorate. If this is the cause, you will need to see a periodontist for a deep cleaning and scaling to remove the tartar buildup around your teeth and gums.
Gum recession is a warning that something isn't right. Book an appointment with your dentist immediately so they can diagnose and cure the problem before it gets out of hand.