Receding gums – symptoms, causes, complications and risk factors

Receding gums

This is a condition in which your gums pull back from your tooth surface and they are exposing the root surfaces of your teeth. This is one form of gum (periodontal) disease. It is a very common dental problem. Receding gums are a serious consequence of poor oral health which can lead to tooth loss [1]. There are different treatments which are available for receding gums which depends on the severity of tissue loss. You should go on regular checkups because the earlier diagnose and treatment is, the better outcome you will have. There are many people who do not know that they have gum recession because this condition is happening gradually. The tooth sensitivity is the first sign of gum recession but you can also notice that a tooth looks longer than normal [2]. Also in many cases, notch can be felt near the gum line. This is not a condition which you should ignore. If you think that your gums are receding, then talk with your doctor as soon as possible because in this way you can prevent further damage.

Symptoms of receding gums

Here are some symptoms of receding gums:

  • Loose teeth
  • Exposed tooth roots
  • Visibly shrinking gums
  • Pain at the gum line
  • Bad breath
  • Red, swollen gums
  • Bleeding after brushing or flossing

Complications of receding gums: There are some studies in which are said that periodontal diseases such as receding gums which are responsible for about 70% of adult tooth loss. It is known that when there is not enough gum tissue to hold the tooth roots in the place, then the teeth are vulnerable to falling out. There are some cases when multiple loose teeth are removed by the dentist before they fall out. When there are advanced cases of receding gums, then your doctor may suggest surgery to prevent further damage. Talk with your doctor as soon as possible if you think that you have receding gums.

Receding gums

Receding gums causes

There are many factors which can cause the gums to recede such as

  • Hormonal changes: It is known fact that fluctuations in the female hormone levels during a woman’s lifetime, such as menopause, pregnancy and puberty, can make her gums more sensitive and more vulnerable to gum recession.
  • Insufficient dental care: The inadequate brushing, rinsing with antibacterial mouthwash and flossing can make it easy for the plaque to turn into calculus (tartar). This is a hard substance which builds on and between the teeth and it can be only removed by a professional dental cleaning. This substance can lead to gum recession. [1]
  • Aggressive tooth brushing: When someone is brushing his teeth in to wrong way or too hard, then it can cause the enamel on his teeth to wear away and his gums to recede. [3]
  • Your genes: There are some people who may be more susceptible to gum disease. There are some studies in which are said that 30% of the population may be predisposed to gum disease, regardless of how well they care for their teeth.
  • Periodontal diseases: These diseases are bacterial gum infections which can destroy the gum tissue and they can destroy the gum tissue and supporting bone which hold your teeth in place. The main cause for gum recession is the gum disease. [4]
  • Body piercing of the lip or tongue: It is known that jewelry can rub the gums and it can irritate them to the point that gum tissue is worn away. [5]
  • Crooked teeth or a misaligned bite: When your teeth do not come together evenly, then too much force can be placed on the gums and bone which is allowing gums to recede.
  • Grinding and clenching your teeth: It is known that the clenching or grinding your teeth can put too much force on your teeth which is causing your gums to recede. [6]
  • Tobacco products: It is known fact that tobacco users are having more chances to have sticky plaque on their teeth which is difficult to remove and this can lead to gum recession. [7]

Risk factors: There are some studies in which are said that receding gums are most common in adults who are 40 years or older. This is a reason why the receding gums are often misconceived as a normal sing of aging. Also it is known that more men are developing receding gums compared to women.


[1] Singh A, Purohit B. Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health
Abhinav Singh and Bharathi Purohit. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. 2011;2(2):64–8.

[2] American Dental Association. Sensitive teeth: Causes and treatment. JADA. 2003;134:1691.

[3] Dörfer CE, Staehle HJ, Wolff D. Three‐year randomized study of manual and power toothbrush effects on pre‐existing gingival recession. Journal of Clinical Periodontology. 2016;43(6):512–9.

[4] Alzammam N, Almalki A. Knowledge and awareness of periodontal diseases among Jordanian University students: A cross-sectional study. Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology. 2019;23(6):574–9.

[5] Nternational & American Association For Dental Research. Lip piercing can lead to receding gums. Science Daily. 2005. Retrieved from

[6] Murali RV, Rangarajan P, Mounissamy A. Bruxism: Conceptual discussion and review. Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences. 2015;7(Suppl1):S265–S270.

[7] University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Quitting smoking could save your teeth, Study shows. Science Daily. 2005. Retrieved from


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