Mask Group 43

Medically Reviewed by Lisa A. Turner, DDS, MSD

What is gum recession?

Gum recession is the process in which the gum tissue pulls back from a tooth (or teeth), thereby exposing more of the tooth and possibly the tooth root. It is a common dental problem that affects between 4% to 12% of the adult population. This can lead to a loosening of the tooth or even damage to the bone holding the tooth root in place. This allows bacteria to build up and cause increasing gum damage or infection.

Gum recession is a serious dental problem and should not be ignored. If your dentist sees signs of gum infection, disease, or recession, he may treat it or recommend that you see a periodontist. A periodontist is a dental specialist who treats infections of the gum tissue and bone.

Common Causes

There are a host of possible causes of gum recession, including:

Improper Tooth Brushing

Not brushing teeth properly, brushing too infrequently, overly aggressive tooth brushing, or using a hard-bristled toothbrush, can damage the gums and lead to gum recession.

Improper Flossing

Not flossing every day or flossing improperly can lead to a buildup of food between your teeth and plaque that regular tooth brushing can not reach. If the soft plaque material is not removed by flossing, it will harden and turn to tartar, which can only be removed by a dentist or periodontist.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is a serious gum infection that can loosen your teeth and damage the bone holding teeth in place.

Tobacco Products

Nicotine reduces blood flow to your teeth and gums, often leading to gum recession and cavities.

Grinding or Clenching Teeth

Bruxism (chronic teeth-grinding) and clenching your teeth put tremendous pressure on your gums; sometimes your gums cannot hold up under the increased pressure.

Genetic Makeup

Some people are more prone to developing gum disease, even if they brush and floss properly and regularly.


Both prescription and over-the-counter preparations can damage your teeth and cause gum problems such as inflammation, bleeding or ulceration.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes, such as those that occur when going through puberty, pregnancy, or menopause, can cause gum recession.

How is gum recession treated?

Mild to moderate gum recession can sometimes be treated by having a periodontist do a deep cleaning of your teeth and gums. This type of cleaning is also called scaling or root planing. The periodontist will clean the plaque and tartar that have formed beneath the gum line.

For more severe gum recession, the periodontist may perform open flap scaling and root planing. In this procedure, the gums are folded back, harmful bacteria are removed, and then the gum tissue is secured over the tooth root.

Another treatment for severe gum recession is a soft tissue graft. The most common type is a connective tissue graft, which involves having a flap of skin cut at the roof of your mouth. Healthy tissue is removed from under the flap and then stitched to the gum tissue surrounding the exposed tooth. At the conclusion of the procedure, the flap at the roof of your mouth is stitched back down.

Another type of soft tissue graft is called a free gingival graft. In this procedure, the tissue is taken directly from the roof of your mouth instead of from under the flap of the roof of your mouth.

If the bone that supports your teeth has been damaged or destroyed as a result of gum recession, regeneration may be recommended. Regeneration is a procedure in which the gum tissue is folded back, bacteria are removed, some type of regenerative or tissue-stimulating material is applied, and then the gum is secured over the root of the tooth. The materials applied to the gum encourage your body to naturally regenerate tissue and bone in the affected area.

Gum recession can lead to serious dental and health problems, and should not be ignored. Schedule an appointment today at Venice Periodontics! Call us at 941-497-5591 or contact us online.