Receding Gums: Symptoms, Causes & Prevention

If you notice your teeth looking longer than before, you could be having receding gums. As the name suggests, receding gums happens when your gums move away from your teeth, exposing more teeth. When it is not treated, the root of your tooth may be exposed, increasing the possibility of tooth decay, infection, and even tooth loss. Find out what are the symptoms, causes, and prevention of receding gums below.

Symptoms of Receding Gums

Healthy gums are pink in color and tightly fit over your teeth. However, when your gums are inflamed or infected, they may bleed easily when you brush or floss your teeth. Ignoring early signs will cause the infection to progress, and bleeding may happen even when you are not brushing or flossing. Your gums may feel painful from the swelling and will appear red.

Look out for other less obvious signs that your gum is receding. As gum recession exposed tooth roots, you can notice greater tooth sensitivity. As a result, the tooth nerve may more easily cause sensations when you eat something that is hot, cold, sweet, or sour. When gum recession has progressed, you could have more obvious symptoms including foul breath, and you may even start to lose your teeth.

Causes of Receding Gums

The main cause of receding gums is a bacterial infection. There are hundreds of different bacterial strains living in your mouth, some of which can be dangerous. Bacterial concentrations rise daily and form a sticky coating called plaque on tooth surfaces. When dental plaque is not frequently eliminated by brushing and flossing, the bacteria in it can infect and irritate gums. In its early stage, your gums will look red and swollen. In the second stage, there will be significant gum recession and your gums start to bleed more easily. Other symptoms include loose teeth, foul breath, a lingering sour taste in your mouth, and changes to your bite as teeth become looser. 

Poor oral hygiene will lead to the buildup of plaque, producing toxins that cause gum disease. When you brush too hard or use bristles that are too stiff, your gums may get bruised or wear away easily, increasing the vulnerability to gum disease.

Other behaviors and actions such as teeth grinding and clenching, oral piercing, dental injury, or smoking can also lead to the wearing down and damage of your gums.

Genetics and health conditions can also play a part. Some people naturally have gum tissue that is thinner and more brittle. In other cases, they may have immune disorders that make them more prone to getting gum infections.

Prevention of Receding Gums

Treating receding gums can be difficult in the later stages, so prevention is always better than cure. At early stages, it is easier to reverse and prevent receding gums. For example, people who grind their teeth at night can purchase a night guard for protection. Or if you notice bruising or bleeding after brushing, you may be brushing too hard. In this case, change to softer bristles or be gentle when you brush.

But sometimes the signs may be very subtle and may be overlooked. For this reason, regular consultations with your dentist might aid in preventing gum disease. Your dentist will be able to enhance your oral hygiene practice and spot early signs so you don’t have to go through the pain of receding gums.